Smart Plank Boarding: ELT Isn’t Apolitical

30/06/2022 19:07

Smart Plank Boarding: ELT Isn’t Apolitical


The term ‘waterboarding’ became quite well known, as a form of torture used during the Gulf wars with Moslem Iraq, and for the interrogating of prisoners, especially those suspected of being terrorists, at the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention center facility on the Caribbean island of Cuba, south of the southern coast state of Florida, originally seized by the Christian US during its support for Cuba’s independence in the April 21st-August 13th 1898 Spanish-American war, before Cuba’s signing of a lease, giving the use of ‘Gitmo’ as a ‘coaling and Navy station’1 in 1903, in exchange for the US guaranteeing Cuba’s independence.

 However, the 17th-20th April, 1961, military defeat at the ‘Bay of Pigs’, during the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)  funded volunteer Cuban exiles’ 2506 Brigade invasion by sea at the inlet of the Gulf of Cazones, located on Cuba’s southern coast, which failed to overthrow the Communist regime of President Fidel Castro, didn’t pass muster with the member states of the United Nations (UN) as fostering Cuban freedom, while Russia took the opportunity in May, 1962, to place medium range theatre of war, R-12 Dvina (Двина), ballistic missiles on Cuba, capable of delivering nuclear weapons against the US, on the understanding they were defending Cuban independence, which almost led to a ‘hot’ war, and aside from his extra-marital affair with movie star, Marilyn Monroe, as Lorelei Lee singing ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953), undoubtedly contributed to the killing of then US President John ‘Jack’ F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, by unknown sniper, on November 22nd, 1963, allegedly from a ‘grassy knoll’ near Dealey Plaza, shot in the back and head, while traveling backseat with wife, Jaqueline ‘Jackie’ née Bouvier, in an open top 1961 Lincoln Continental, made by the Ford Motor Company, code named X-100 by the Secret Service, along crowd lined Elm Street, as part of a formal motorcade:


‘A kiss on the hand

May be quite continental,

But diamonds are a girl's best friend.’2



 The use of ‘smartboarding’ by the unscrupulous, to torture and interrogate teachers, in order to gain access to property and facilities, though deployed in a way similar to waterboarding, isn’t so widely comprehended. Waterboarding, of course, simulates drowning by stuffing wet cloth into the mouths of the tortured in order to obtain information, for example, about terrorist activity. Typical smartboarding is students asking, ‘Are you alone here?’ and teachers replying, as happened to me in Moslem Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region, ruggedly independent from Moscow, since August 31st, 1991, and where everything officially is still written unofficially in the Russian Cyrillic script, ‘With you, tovarisch, loneliness is never a consideration to be entertained for very long.’


Fig. 1 Kyrgyzs Manas was the first khagan of the Yenisei Khaganate


 In the city of Kadamjay’s (КАДАМЖАЙ) ‘Semetey’, named for the son of legendary Manas (d. 711 C.E.), 7th century first khagan of the Yenisei Kyrgyz Khaganate (see Figure 1), the Sapat schools’ lyceum for boys is Turkish-Kyrgyz, so explaining my ‘smartboarding’ by İstanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) airport baggage controllers, who mugged me for what ELT teachers are, presumably, unwittingly for, that is, transporting disassembled multi-headed screwdriver bits (see Figure 2), costing in Kyrgyzstan roughly the equivalent of $ US 1.05 ¢ (100 Kyrgyzs Som), which laptop maintenance equipage I might never be able to afford again upon my return to Europe to perforce give up, as a late Eastern Orthodox, 7th January, Xmas gift, to luggage inspection, hopefully without incurring any more turkey; unorthodox, or the usual gobbler’s.

 After an umpteenth lesson observation, this time by no one associated with the Semetey school at all, but who wanted the job I’d only started in Autumn 2021, I was asked, ‘Do you have family?’ Somewhat peeved, subsequent to an earlier impromptu ‘ob’, before parents, some wearing the traditional Moslem Turkish-Kyrgyzs high crowned, distinguishingly decorated, Al (white) Kalpak, cap (see Figure 3), who ‘just thought they’d show up’ for a Solutions Elementary, Unit 3, ‘Style’, Exercise 2, page 32, ‘Read the Tweets: find the name, date and location of the music festival they are describing’, at my 7th grade English language class, 1st floor, room 206, in no mood for small talk, I’d replied ‘No, so you can’t shoot ‘em.’ ‘We do,’ he said. Jobs with the obviously boys.


Fig. 2 Multi bit screwdriver set


 Waterboarding concerned the US, subsequent to the hijacking of civil airliners on September 11, 2001, by the Moslem extremist Al Qaeda group, ‘the base’, led by Saudi Arabian business heir, Osama Ben Laden, formerly based in Khartoum, Sudan (1992-96), before the US’ bombing there of the reputedly chemical weapons factory, al-Shifa, and after the successful, with Moslem Saudi ‘Wahhabi’ support, war against officially atheist Russia’s USSR (1979-89). Laden, along with 35,000 Saudi ‘Wahhabi’, financially assisted by rich royals, ‘The House of Saud’, and after praying in Mecca, at the holy shrine of Abraham, the burka box (see Figure 4), Ka’ Ba, for better meat inside their burger bar drive-in buns, fought and won, but astonishingly lost their beef with McDonald’s; the children more at home to the Disney tie in, ‘Ferdinand The Bull’,3 promotional butcher’s film.

 Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (1703-1792 C.E.) founded Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative Sunni branch of Islam, which ostensibly replaced the worship of Baal, the bull god, with the Koran (610-30 C.E.) of the Prophet Mohamed (570-632 C.E.), dictated by the angels of God, according to Islamic tradition, and distinct from the Shia branch of Islam, founded by the Prophet Mohamed’s putative successor, cousin and son-in-law, ʿAlī ibn Abī  Ṭālib (c. 600-661 C.E.).

 Laden’s relocated Al Qaeda, on 9/11, 2001, operating under the auspices of the notoriously misogynist Moslem Taliban regime of Kabul, Afghanistan, trained militarily by Moslem Pakistan’s inter-services Intelligence (ISI), was toppled through US’ army invasion by December 30th, 2001, but the Taliban reinstated themselves, after guerilla war with the mainly Protestant British (52%) and Americans (43%),4 that is, those who believe that God’s business is with them, rather than with the Catholics’ Pope in Rome, by August 18th, 2021, so causing distress to many hundreds of ecumenically trapped ELT professionals forced to live there in fear for their lives.

 They’d become used to it since Bosnia’s war with Herzegovina (1992-95), during the break-up of the former Soviet Empire’s artificial super-state, Yugoslavia, and the internecine genocide perpetrated by Christian Serbs against approximately 8,000 Moslem Bosniak men and boys in the town of Srebrenica, Republika Srpska, for example. The UK, after sending ELT professionals throughout the globe, subsequent to the high street bank (Lloyds, Barclays, etc.) grant funded training for business programs, which Universities and colleges perforce had to adapt to in 1998, after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (CCCP), with the declaration of a supposedly liberal, modern, business-oriented Russian Federation in 1991, withdrew from the EU at 23.00 GMT on January 31st, 2020, so avenging themselves on the pre-bank funded free education ‘spongers’, that is, the bums they’d made homeless, after sending them to be perceived as whores by foreign students complaining they weren’t getting enough from the hour that they’d paid for.


Fig. 3 Al Kapak wearers


 On 9/11, 2001, two planes, AA Flight 11 and UA Flight 175 en route to L.A. (LAX), hijacked at Boston, Logan airport, Massachusetts, were crashed, within an hour of each other by Al Qaeda terrorist hijackers, amongst them operational leader, Egyptian Mohamed Atta, who amongst others had studied at Huffman Aviation, Venice Municipal Airport, Florida state, into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, city of New York’s Manhattan Island, New York state, and AA Flight 77 en route to L.A. (LAX), hijacked at Dulles airport, Washington D.C., was crashed into the building housing the Defense Department, city of Arlington, Virginia state. The WTC was penetrated at 8.46 am (North Tower), and 9.03 am (South Tower), and a wall of the Pentagon at 9.37 am (West side) that ill-fated Tuesday morning.

 A fourth plane, UA 93 en route to San Francisco (SFO), hijacked at Newark Liberty airport, New Jersey, reputedly on course for President George W. Bush Jnr’s official Whitehouse residence in Washington D.C., was wrested from terrorist control by passengers and crew over Indian Lake, Shanksville, Pennsylvania state, crashing at 10.03 am in a field near a reclaimed coal strip mine, Diamond T., owned b  y PBS Coals, Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, which resulted in the US authorizing the interrogation of detained terrorist suspects, as an emergency measure, at its globally located CIA ‘black sites’, which might explain the UK’s offloading of its ‘free love’ hippies abroad in ELT programs, after 1998’s growing belief that they’d freeloaded for decades, as what the US were pleased to call in the 1960s, unemployable ‘long hair pinko commie faggots’, for example, as evinced in Charlie Daniels ‘redneck’ lyrics to ‘Uneasy Rider’ from the Charlie Daniels Band pre-Soviet collapse, Honey in the Rock (1973), album:


‘Well, he's a friend of them long haired, hippy-type, pinko fags!

I betchya he's even got a commie flag

tacked up on the wall inside of his garage.’5


 In predominantly Roman Catholic Poland (92.8%),6 according to news agencies, there were black sites for those with concerns about loved ones whereabouts engaged in ELT provision on the former ‘Cold War’ (1945-89) battlefields of Eastern Europe, post-Brexit snows, where detention of suspects by Russia’s Soviet Union and its satellite states, such as Christian Poland, was opposed by application of US’ President Harry Truman’s ‘Truman Doctrine’, containing the spread of Communism, and enforced between March 12th, 1947 and December 26th, 1991, when Russia’s Eastern bloc collapsed, before its reemergence as a Federation, seeking admittance to the economic and political European Union, and thence to membership of the western defense alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

 Smartboarding requires access to a ‘plank’, which is a generic term for an unwitting stooge, for example, Huffman Aviation, Venice, Fla., which unwittingly trained Mohamed Atta as the AA Flight 11 pilot, American Airlines, themselves duped (North Tower, Pentagon), and United Airlines (South Tower, Shanksville), and/or what businessmen call ‘a mason’s fool’, that is, someone who isn’t aware of the role they play, but it’s played out because it has its use. Many University graduates from England, for example, were recruited as planks, that is, trained in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), so that they could be sent overseas; as proxy school boarders for businesses with vested interests amounting to those of pirates. Standing smart and bored in front of the smart board, and the bored, with or without smarts, the ELT professional represented the gangplank, that is, the plank over which the gang board, like privateers listening to some voice from another shore, an aspect of another state's economy.


Fig. 4 The shrine of Abraham, Ka’ Ba, Mecca, KSA, with bull’s shoe


 The Cov-SARS 2 virus, which made a large proportion of English language teaching professionals redundant, both in the sense that they couldn’t work abroad, because of epidemiological restrictions, and/or their unfamiliarity with the usability of online technologies to provide ELT, which was beyond the scope of many formerly employed to give language lessons only in the classroom, was an aspect of the firers, that is, those employers who wanted to be rid of the planks, so that the bored meat was more regular and accepting of whatever motion was tabled.

 Monitored by educational institutions on a global scale, ELT’s surviving exponents in the art of passing a motion, although students prefer to call it, ‘walking the plank’ between classrooms, were subjected to the online version of the Cov-SARS 2 virus, the firers, seeking to get the gang aboard over the burning plank, embarrassed, red faced, and generally overheated with confusion, as to what was so important about ensuring that each of the online guests to the virtual classroom wear Porky Pig (see Figure 5) face masks,7 while attempting to elicit significance from the educator’s mumblings, almost inaudible behind his/her own oral ‘codpiece’,* with its mandatory Chilly Willy designer imagery,8 because they’ve seen that the plank’s been inculcating learning, which is the reason for the firers, who want their own people amongst the bored members, and don’t abhor the deployment of an inexpensive ‘biological warfare suit’; if it assists in the smart borers achieving that.

 After the plank has been walked, the marchers amongst the students having struck, the firers inside the local skulls, sporting their codpieces before their mouths, tacitly refusing oral examinations, remain uncontaminated nationalists, preserving the integrity of their linguistic heritage, against the efforts of the infidel to pollute their minds, with alternatively useful modes of expressivity, favored by the speech requirements of the United States of America’s business-savvy weltanschauung, because they believe in slavery for intellectual ‘long hairs,’ who think they can make a difference to the planet; changing the world they live in, so to experience that which is indefinably unique for every person: happiness.


Fig. 5 Porky Pig face mask


 The small bores in the skullroom, joined by larger, meaner, more cost-conscious, managerial bores, at first fire only planks, replacing them with bores that are bigger and more suited to the needs of the economist for holes of their own sort. In Saudi Arabia, for example, Universities were green, if employing mainly Saudis, and bloody oranges, if they employed some few foreigners to teach English, but bright red, if the numbers of planks, without the firers, were too high.

 The ‘traffic light' system was applied by nation states globally, after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was discovered at a hospital in Wuhan city, which housed the Chinese/American company, Lenovo, provider of artificially intelligent (AI) traffic lights,9 in Hubei Province, Communist China, on December 1st, 2019. Lenovo donated to Wuhan emergency hospital facilities, ‘traffic light’ IT to monitor, and so control, the spread of the virus,10 debilitating to the natural human brain, during the pandemic, while escalations were indicated by labeling countries red, for no-go, orange for those in transition, after the anti-virus (AV) vaccine against Covid-19 was administered, and green-for-go video.

 According to structural anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009), traffic lights are structural, that is, a part of nature,11 which finds correspondence in the structure of the human brain. Thinking in traffic light terms, brains that are damaged require more external direction, which English democratic socialist writer, George Orwell, in his critique of totalitarianism, 1984 (1948), called ‘Big Brother’. As the brain damaged planks lost ground to the firers, so they couldn’t star in the  company video (Co., Vid.), because they’d been stopped in ‘the red light district’, the company of the bored grew, almost as fast as the bores, gathering around the halls of their Chambers of Commerce, could fire us.


Fig. 6 Naryn mosque, Naryn region, Kyrgyzstan


 Business and Christianity go hand in hand in western civilization and culture. However, three world wars in the 20th century; the First with the German Christian Empire (1914-18); the Second with disaffected National Socialist (Nazi) Germany (1939-45), smarting after defeat, and the Third with Iraq, a supporter of Germany in WWII, beginning with the first Gulf war (1990-91), after dictator Saddam Hussein’s army invaded fellow Moslem state, Kuwait, for its oil, and continuing against ISIL, the Independent State of Islam in the Levant, subsequent to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, when Saddam Hussein, consequent to 9/11, 2001, offered bases to Al Qaeda there, was more suggestive of the shadow of the vampire, that is, property thieves (businessmen) benefiting from the deaths of the children they’d grown for war, which image, strengthened by the specter of the US’ B2 Spirit ‘stealth’ bomber, flew like a bat in its own darkness, dropping ‘blockbusters’ on the humanity cowering in fear beneath its wings.


Fig. 7 Sphinx with Cheops


 The mosques of the Moslems of the nations of Islam are gigantic in human terms (see Figure 6), as they’re mausoleums (Moslems). Despite western assertions that the mansion, manse, mausoleum progression is from life to spirituality in preparation for death’s tomb, amongst the Moslems in the Middle East and elsewhere, mausoleums are retirement homes for the rich, as the history of the rulers of ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs, with their gods, goddesses, and pyramids, such as that of Khufu  (see figure 7) of the 4th dynasty, constructed c. 2600 B.C., at Giza on the outskirts of the modern Moslem capital city, Cairo, illustrate, which is what business and Christianity’s slave virus fights to possess. As the planks are fired, so the smarts are replaced with the wing tip collars of the vampire, because the battle for possession is taken into the skullrooms where, AIDS and SARS having made reluctant virgins, the bores bore until every mouse hole is possessed by the company of the bored.




* From Middle English (M.E.) ‘cod’, scrotum; an often leather cup, and largely fashion accessory in the 15th and 16th centuries that, worn outwardly upon the front of the garment, enclosed the genitals for protection; similar in intent to the modern athlete’s jockstrap, which is worn beneath external clothing.


Works Cited


1 Suellentrop, Chris ‘How Did the U.S. Get A Naval Base in Cuba?’, Slate, ‘News and Politics’, January 18th, 2002, 5. 25 pm, .

2 Styne,  Jule, (music), and Leo Robin (lyrics) ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’(1949), Monroe, Marilyn as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 20th Century Fox, 1953.

3 Nicol, Mark, and David Williams ‘Abandoned: Teachers who gave English classes and promoted  UK values too across Afghanistan now live in fear of the Taliban’, Mailonline, August 12th, 2021, 12.27 am, .

4 Kahl, Milt, original cartoonist and voice, ‘Ferdinand the Bull’, Walt Disney Productions, Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, 1938; guest Ferdinand The Bull appearance, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Amblin Entertainment, 1988; computer generated feature length animation, Ferdinand The Bull, Blue Sky Studios, Inc., 2017.

5 Daniels, Charlie ‘Uneasy Rider’, Charlie Daniels Band, Honey in the Rock, Kama Sutra, 1973.

6 Berendt, Joanna, and Nicholas Kulish ‘Polish Ex-Official Charged With Aiding CIA’, New York Times, March 27th, 2012, .

7 Freleng, Friz, original Porky Pig cartoonist, redesigned by Frank Tashlin and Tex Avery for Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, ‘I Haven’t Got A Hat’, etc., 1935-.

8 Smith, Paul J., original Chilly Willy cartoonist, redesigned by Tex Avery for Walter Lantz Productions, ‘Chilly Willy’, etc., 1953-.

9 Lenovo, StoryHub, ‘Smart Technology Helps Control City Traffic’, October 29th, 2019, .

10 Udin, Efe ‘Lenovo Group’s First Batch of IT Equipment Arrives at Wuhan’, , January 28th, 2020.

11 Leach, Edmund Ronald Claude Lévi-Strauss, ‘Oysters, Smoked Salmon, and Stilton Cheese’, Penguin, London, 1970, Ch. 2, p. 19.

IT Came From Outer Space

10/02/2022 05:47

IT Came From Outer Space


English language teachers, who began an overseas odyssey in the early 1990s, were already perhaps familiar with the boon and blessing of the magic of what then passed for modern technology in the age of the computer. However, the advent of the PCT, that is, personal computer terminal, suggested that IT represented an artificial intelligence (AI) with interests other than the health of the human. IT is Information Technology, and the PC humanity's heart monitor. Where PC is interpretable as ‘policeman’, PC is cancer, and our terminal relationship with IT tells us how much time we have left.

 In mythic terms, the development of what came to be called Bluetooth, since the initiation of research into ‘short link’ radio technology by Nils Rydbeck, chief technology officer (CTO) in 1987 of ‘phone company Mobile Ericsson, Lund, Sweden, was IT with the teeth of a vampire. If IT sank its teeth into you, you might live. Bluetooth was actually named for Harald Bluetooth, king of Denmark and Norway (c. 958 - c. 986), who united disparate Scandinavian tribes, so it’s symbolic of unified communications protocols, that is, ostensibly incompatible connections made compatible through wireless; represented by an ancient Nordic rune combination of Harald Bluetooth's initials (see Figure 1).

 Vikings invaded England in 1066 by sea, but that king, Harald Hardrada of Norway, that is, Harald III, was defeated at the battle of Stamford Bridge, East Yorkshire, on September 25th. However, England's victorious king, Harold I, was defeated a short while later by another invading French army, led by William of Normandy, which landed at Pevensey on the South coast on September 28th. After a forced march by Harold I's army to Hastings, East Sussex, the English were defeated on October 14th, and William of Normandy, known as 'the conqueror', became William I of England.

 While the Vikings, who continued to raid England from the sea, became a byword for rapine, looting, war and death, the new aristocracy from France began enriching the English language with its words, for example, blonde (blond) reason (raison) and favourite (favorite) derive from French.* Consequently, although celebrated in the two part book, The Long Ships (1941-5), by  Sweden’s Frans G. Bengtsson, and made into a 1964 movie, starring American actor, Richard Widmark, Harald Bluetooth's 10th century Viking symbolism is a two-edged sword. Those with the technology have the tools to continue, whereas those who don’t fall by the wayside.




 Who amongst us hasn’t been asked, ‘Do you have a laptop?’ Completing my PhD in 1992, ‘Jungian Archetypes in the work of Robert A. Heinlein’, required me to have a PC/word processor, and so an Amstrad PCW 9512 was duly purchased, with LocoScript word processing software and a printer, so that the 100, 000 word, 612 page thesis, could be taken, as required, to be bound in Bradford, before being deemed an acceptable pass and consigned to gather dust on a shelf at Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University. Familiar with url hypertext protocols and the internet information superhighway that is the world wide web (WWW), when trained as an ELT professional at a government sponsored course run by private company provider, European Training and Communications, Etc., Etc., and supervised by the TESOL Certificate awarders, Trinity College London, it wasn’t that long before a laptop was deemed an essential adjunct, subsequent to a spell of chalk and blackboard teaching as a lecturer in literature in English at Debrecen University, and its Center for English Teacher Training (CETT), Hungary, where the Soviet Russian pull out in 1989, following Russia's refusal to withdraw from Eastern Europe's formerly independent nations, consequent to the defeat of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany in World War II (1939-45), had left a distrust of foreigners, so virulent amongst the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' (CCCP) satellite slave states, including East Germany, that advanced technology was a board pin to us.

 English language teachers, bored and smart, went in droves to Eastern Europe, looking for some smart bored to educate, and with former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s words ringing in their rears, ‘On yer bike!’ In Hungary, the average monthly wage in 1995 was equivalent to what could be had on the dole then in the UK. Later, however, the choice for new teachers became 3,000 US $ in the Middle East per month, and accept the equivalent of castration teaching an all-male audience, or 1,000 US $ in Eastern Europe, as the former Soviet bloc's economies were held to keep pace by the Western Europeans, led by France and reunified Germany since 1990, where 1,000 Euros a month was normative in terms of ELT salary expectations.

 As England’s teaching exports - and others - learnt the requirements of IT’s system, the telecommunications companies’ developing of the smartphone and tablet - and a Lenovo Yoga 3.8 Marshmallow Lollipop stays by my side constantly - helped bridge the gulf between overhead projector (OHP), smartboard, and bored, as the dongle affording male-female HDMI, DVI, and VGA penetration, through USB port connectors, promoted the transference of visuals from tablet to smart board screen, so facilitating the teacher-student interface.

 When the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus 2 variant finally became virulent enough to kill millions across the globe, after its discovery in December 2019 at a Wuhan city hospital, Hubei Province, China, teachers yet unfamiliar were introduced to Blackboard, and similar software, to facilitate distance learning, with students sitting at home in front of their computer screens, as the ELT pros sat in front of theirs, instructing on how to learn during the pandemic. Caught in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, it was a UK government arranged rescue flight to London that permitted of my escaping IT’s engineers.

 That overcrowded schools, and other learning environments, contributed to the coughin' is indubitably true, but IT's inability to improve on blackboard and chalk for the assassinated teacher overseas contributed to perceptions of unfairness, as lesson observations were made that resulted in criticism that teachers were unfit, and/or didn't fit. There were obvious parallels between IT's viruses and that of the coughin' fit, because disabled learning is equivalent to wasted years, that is, murder by degrees, if there’s no smart pen, so the screen has to be used with a wipeable marker board pen. IT, like a debilitating virus, could delay the progress of the smart bored, and/or PD (professional development) of a teacher, for years; until the coffin fit. Simply by IT indicating to local adminstrators that a VGA dongle was at present unattainable, it likely would remain out of reach of the educational establishment for the foreseeable future of the worn out foreigner.




 In Kyrgyzstan (see Figure 2), for example, at a Kadamjay city school, Batken region, founded in 1993 and named ‘Semetey’ after the son of the legendary hero, Manas (see Figure 3), in the poet Sayakbair Karalayev’s Epic of Manas, though equipped with a Lenovo laptop, the smartboard required an HDMI portal. The problem was resolved by the lyceum's IT expert obtaining a USB dongle with a feminine HDMI connection that could be plugged into the laptop to accept the male HDMI smartboard plug in, so facilitating the showing of Solutions Upper Intermediate - with audio - to the audience sitting expectorantly at their desks.

 However, aged 60, and pretty well near totally assassinated by IT years before, my gratitude in September 2021 was indeed wry, as the opening lines of the epic, originally part of an oral tradition, written down in the 18th century, and detailing Manas' birth, came unbidden to my brain, troubled yet again by an all boys' school, this time in Asia:


‘A sound of screaming rang out, and everyone rushed

To see,

Was it a boy or girl?

When his mother saw Manas’ penis, she so glad

She swooned.’1




 Arriving at the capital city Bishkek's airport, named for Manas, the humble traveler isn't normally aware that ‘Manas’, translated literally, is ‘God' to the Kyrgyz. Taking a further plane to Osh city, lasting above an hour, after an eight hour flight from Ferenc Liszt airport, Ferihegy, Budapest, Hungary, there was a further two hour journey through the mountains by car, before those peaked fastnesses that would hem me in all around, and throughout the winter, became visible.




 If the SARS 2 coronavirus, emerging at the local hospital, not far from architects', Sasaki Associates, Inc., projected 15.3 billion RMB Lenovo Intelligent Valley R & D lakefront Campus (see Figure 4), Wuhan city, Hubei Province, China, didn't get me, IT would. Taking my modem to Budapest airport, with the sim that the bank would send a verification code to, if an attempt by me to pay a bill was queried by IT, check-in dented my progress by arguing that the Covid-19 Euro-passport, recording the second vaccination at Budapest's Szent Imre Egyetemi Oktatókórház (see Figure 5), that is (for native English speaking readers only), the Saint Imre University Research Hospital, was insufficient without evidence of a first vaccination, which meant my having to show evidence of it from a drop-in center in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland, and resulted in the loss/theft of the modem with the sim.

 IT had traveled at my side in a small bag containing my Lenovo tablet, which I continued to take in the hope of defeating the virus threat. However, as frantic fruitless efforts had been made to locate the official copy of the Scottish negative Covid-19 result, a large part of IT disappeared, along with half the written life of the journalist; encrypted onto a 64 GB Ultra Dual m3.0 flash drive with both micro-USB and 3.0 USB connectors, as well as bank card reader, which allowed the transfer of digitized cash to my bank account by inserting another's debit card.

 The journey to Kadamjay imperiled, nevertheless the requisite document was attained. However, with the airfare unrefundable to the donor, only a £50 DNA test sampling by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) was now deemed sufficient to pay the ferryman and get me across the Styx to escape from Hades:


‘I would rather follow the plow as thrall to another

Man, one with no land allotted to him and not much to live on,

Than be a king over all the perished dead.’2




 Unfortunately, without the sim in the modem for my bank to send a verification code to, if the electricity bill was to be paid, the company would cut me off, like Greek Achilles' soul protestingly to compatriot Odysseus, after his death in the war against Troy in Asia Minor to restore Helen, abducted by the Trojan Prince Paris, to her husband Menelaus, brother of king Agamemnon of Sparta. In the gloomy despair of lightless Hades, actually pronounced ‘AIDS’, and indeed written so by the Greeks, Áïdēs, the job of killing me would now be divided equally between IT, and the more officially recognizable variant of its plague virus.

 Jesus said, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ (Mk: 6. 4) Persuading boys to put their hands over their mouths to prevent the coughin' virus from spreading is similarly remindful, 'How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.’3 The student, his back turned, can't see the teeth of the virus emerging from the coffin. It's part of the responsibility of the teacher to make their charges more aware; despite the corers of the apples of their parents’ eyes desire to hack. IT's more helpful than it used to be, but the damage to health and longevity is already done, as England’s foremost dramatist William Shakespeare’s mad king, Lear, evinces in the 1606 play, and so the verdict from the head is, 'Could have done better.’ With modern and up to the minute facilities, lives could be enriched and extended, or even saved perhaps, in the classroom; as elsewhere.




* Acceptance by the English of rich linguistic influxes from other sources is the reason why American English, which didn't begin even to be written until after Shakespeare, and didn't actually represent the language of a nation until the 19th century, after the American War of Independence (1775-1783) from George III's British Empire, and finally won in 1815, as agreed at the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Belgium, ratified on February 17th in Washington D.C., after the Second American War of Independence (1812-), can never supplant England's English. As the history of French Canada illustrates, the English language isn't America's, but rather France's, which doesn't accept linguistic contamination from others. While Americans can't rid themselves of their French, England's acceptance of it is what makes English theirs.




1 Manas (transl. Walter May), Rarity, Bishkek, 2004.

2 Homer Odyssey, c. 8th century, Bk 11, l. 488-91.

3 Shakespeare, William King Lear, 1608, Act I, Scene iv.

Fricative, ‘Plosive (Voiced and Unvoiced), Nasal, and Approximant Consonants in English Language Teaching

08/01/2022 04:05

Fricative, ‘Plosive (Voiced and Unvoiced), Nasal, and Approximant Consonants in English Language Teaching


When teaching ‘Presentation’, a form of EAP (English for Academic Purposes) offered by institutions to government clients, who want to ensure that their employees are able to present their point of view to English speaking foreigners, the ELT professional invariably encounters the problem of explaining how it is that the English pronunciation of ‘the’ (θ) and ‘three’ (ð) sounds differently to the ear, so are notated differently in the international phonetic alphabet (IPA), although either are fricative consonants, or ‘spirants’, that is, the two sounds comprising ‘th’ are made by the friction of breath in a narrow opening (see Figure 1), as f/th/v/h/sh/s/z, and ʤ, which is the phonetic symbol for the sound used in the pronunciation of ‘jam’, for example, and in the name, Jonah.


Fig. 1 Articulation



 It was the science fiction writer, Frank Herbert, who developed the concept of voice in his novel, Dune (1965), which was about a planet called Arrakis, a desert world whose people, the Fremen, relied heavily on their knowledge of the use of sound for survival. For example, the Fremen employed a device to make rhythmic sounds upon the surface of the sand of the desert to call worms, that is, giant creatures resembling the sandworms of Earth, which the Fremen then harnessed to ride across the desert, as a simple and convenient means of transporting themselves, from one place to another.

 In Dune Herbert describes the Bene Gesserit witches’ training in ‘Voice’, a means of issuing commands on a subconscious level, so that others can’t resist being compelled to obedience. Gesserit Voice can be strong enough to force physical action, and even paralysis, in the subject. Voice can be subtly employed in any manner of conversation, public speaking, or debate; to soothe, convince, persuade, influence, and otherwise enhance the spoken word. If the target understands what the Voice is, and how it works, and is aware that it’s being used, it may be resisted. Voice is useless against targets who cannot hear, and in English language teaching the voice of the teacher is useless with those who don’t want to understand the ‘target language’. Moreover, the native speaker of English would be resistant to Voice if it were used upon them, because they can’t understand the language of the desert peoples of the planet Earth’s Middle East region. However, a ‘Weirding Module’ (see Figure 2) is a sonic weapon introduced in and specific to Dune, the 1984 film adaptation directed by David Lynch, which translates specific sounds into attacks of varying potency.



Fig. 2 Weirding module



 The leading family on Arrakis is House Atreides, and its head, Paul Atreides, and his mother, ‘the Bene Gesserit witch’, Jessica, teach Voice to their Fremen army, ‘My own name is a killing word.’1 In fact the Fremen shout the name by which Paul Atreides is known by them as a battle cry, ‘Muad’Dib!’ (see Figure 3) Moreover, Paul’s name is a trigger for the Weirding Module, that is, the sound weapon that the Fremen are instructed in the use of by the Gesserit Voice teachers as a part of their ‘Weirding Way’. Consequently, for Arabian students who’ve seen the subsequent TV series, Dune (2000-), and who identify themselves with the science fictional characters, the Bene Gesserit witches’ advice to the desert dwelling Fremen is sociopathic, ‘… you will be able [to] paralyze …. an enemy or burst his organs.'2

 Because of the language barrier, forcing the ELT professional to shut up, and have their organs explode, is a matter for the students’ understanding that Voice won’t work on those who can hear, but can’t understand their language of Arabic, for example; so it’s only necessary to use ‘plosive consonants’. Also known as occlusives, or simply ‘a stop’, the sounds of pulmonic consonants, p/t/k (voiceless ‘plosives), and /b/d, and g (voiced ‘plosives), are made when the vocal tract is blocked, so that all airflow ceases. In order to slave drive the teacher, and give him/her a heart attack, so that all airflow ceases, if he/she shows any resistance to the coffin prepared, it’s only necessary for the students to deploy the ‘plosive consonants of coughing, and sneezing, that is, nasal consonants, n, m, and the IPA ŋ (-ng), to inflict symptoms of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS); the body’s response to infectious or noninfectious ‘insult’.

 Although approximant consonants, produced by narrowing, but not blocking the vocal tract, as by bringing two parts of the mouth closer, for example; the tongue and the roof of the mouth, as in the sound for ‘l’ in ‘like’, ‘r’ in ‘right’, and semivowels, as ‘y’ in ‘yes’ and ‘w’ in ‘wet’, are indicated as better sounds from the point of view of the instructor of English language to foreigners, so to avoid heart attacks and SIRS illnesses, they don’t produce English speakers, but approximations, which is the trade off compromise arrived at between teachers, who want to breathe and live, and students who sometimes don’t want to learn.



Fig. 3 ‘Muad’Dib!’



 Director David Lynch’s Weirding Module wasn’t a sound weapon derived from Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, although the device is a part of the science fictional armory available to the Fremen in Part One of director Denis Velleneuve’s 2020 film version of the 1965 novel. In Lynch’s 1984 movie the Weirding Module weapon system came in two pieces: the throat microphone and a gun-like device held in front of the mouth for the ELT student to cough in; for example, so producing the ’plosive consonants of a directed energy weapon (DEW). Sounds from the Weirding Module of Dune actually do cause explosions in the sense that the directed sound causes buildings to crumble and other structures; for example, human bodies, to crumple and collapse. For students who don’t like school, and for teachers who have to teach, it isn’t science fiction. Making the ELT professional ill enough to remove them from their post is a students’ activity that isn’t indicated as being an aspect of the teacher’s expected impotence in dealing with the curricula when the supposedly lucrative contract is signed to take them into the war zones of the Middle East where Westerners are often the target of terrorism. The premise of Dune is that Shaddam IV persuades the Atreides’ arch-rival, House Harkonnen, to attack House Atredies because it’s become too popular for the emperor to ignore it as a threat to his rule, ‘We will kill until no Harkonnen breathes Arrakeen air!’ In the Middle East where Saddam I of Iraq was deposed by the invading US army in March 2003, terrorist acts against Western workers are routine, and teachers, perceived as merely ‘talking heads’ (see Figure 4), are a ‘soft target’.



Fig. 4 Talking head



 According to a designer of the science fiction world of the 1984 Dune movie, artist Ron Miller, the idea of death being a cough in sound had been the subject of US’ scientific research for at least a generation, ‘… inspired in large part by the old childhood trick of making a vortex cannon from an old oatmeal box.’2 Miller explains that there isn’t any escape, for those who don’t want to get into the cough-in-box, that is, the Fremen weapon hand-held in front of the ‘plosive consonants emitted from their throat-mike implantations. ‘Uroshnor’, for example, is an example of a killing word/sound directed at the mind and body of the Harkonnen target, which contained ‘… energy that generated the lethal sound.’ Of course, Dune is science fiction, which suggests that a cough-in-box is sufficient to kill in reality, ‘Chuksa!’ Should the classroom terrorist wish to inflict a heart attack upon the native English language speaker visiting Baghdad, that is, to improve the lot of the war torn: ‘Bless you!’

1 MacLachlan, Kyle as Paul Atreides in Dune, Dino De Laurentiis Corporation, 1984.

2 Future War Stories, .

Thunking In English

08/01/2022 03:58

Thunking In English




Ethnicity mightn`t seem important in terms of language learning, but the absence of bars and alcohol in Arabia is useful in terms of language learning, because the scope of what can be read, or listened to, reflects upon what is spoken and written, that is, linguistic adeptness is restricted to within specific socio-cultural parameters of acceptability, which determine what is useful for students to learn in terms of linguistic expression and, though reductive, that`s helpful in second language acquisition and teaching.

The focus will be on the problems learners have with tense, and specifically the present perfect and past simple; for example, in distinguishing the differences. Meaning, use and forms of these tenses are discussed in relation to non-native speakers of a particular language background. The appropriacy of methods of teaching the present perfect, and past simple tenses for different levels of language learners, is examined, with a view to showing how the teaching of these tenses is important in helping students` productive and receptive recognition.




 Form isn`t so much of a problem for students, because grammar structures can always be learned. What is difficult for learners is to think in terms of time, that is, the temporal location of events. Consequently, English language teachers have found that narrative structure is the best means of helping learners to use tense appropriately, because that requires students to think in temporal terms and apply the grammatical structures that they have learned in a communicative context, which is the aim of the productive writer and speaker, after the reading or listening recognition; if they have something of their own to communicate: `In addition to his published writing, Benjamin Zephaniah has produced (1) numerous music recordings, including `Us and `Dem` (1990) and `Belly of de Beast` (1996), and has also appeared as an actor in several television and film productions, including appearing as Moses in the film `Farendj` (1990). His first television play, `Dread Poets Society`,  was first screened (2) by the BBC in 1991.` (Parrot, p. 240) The past simple is a `time anchor`, for example, that is, the productive writer/speaker (if the material is couched as audio) is communicating to the recogniiton of the reader and/or listener the information that some, or all of what they`re imparting as a communication, is located temporally in the past.




 Simple past is a definite concept, that is, it`s simply what`s past, whereas present perfect is used to describe a completed action in a sequence. In short, in the past form of the verb (ending -ed) `work` becomes `worked`, while an irregular verb `sit` becomes `sat`, and the present perfect employs the present form, have/has,  along with the past participle, for example, `I have sat in the theater for two hours ...` The difficulty for students is that the completed action in the past suggests to them an end, rather than a  sequential part of a longer narrative, for example, `He has sat in the theater for two hours, because it`s raining.` The narrative sequence of recognition suggests that the completed action is to be followed by a further sequence of activities, which will involve the person leaving the theater, after the rain has stopped, and possibly several more sequential acts before the narrative concludes, which is most helpful for students to practice productively as it inculcates sequential temporal thinking in grammatical terms.




 Encouraging students to productively narrate, either written or orally, assists their use of grammatical structure, because they learn through recognition what`s apposite. Although learners avoid using grammar they aren`t confident with, that can benefit a teacher, who can give the simplified rules as a `best guide`, and it doesn`t impair linguistic competence. There are linguistic analysts that would argue that a full grammatic knowledge is consistent with best cognition, but that`s a psychologist`s field of expertise, whereas the English language teaching (ELT) professional is concerned only with linguistic competence. Or, in other words, there are levels of grammatical structure that may be important for first language learners, because it`s a part of their growing cognitive capacity, whereas second language learners already have a developed cognitive awareness, so not all of the grammar needs to be inculcated as essential, but only that which is contributive to productive expression. Rosemary Aitken isolates two main problems with the formation of the present perfect: false patterning; and phonic contractions. Irregularity in terms of pattern, for example, drink/drank/drunk, leads to such constructions as, `I have thunk`, (Aitken,  2002, p. 37), while cognitively unrecognized and so misrepeated phonics, for example, `He`s broken it,` produce `He is broken it.` Phonically the `-ed` ending may not be heard, so not reproduced in speech, that is, `Yesterday he walk to school.’ (Parrot, 2011, p. 245 Consequently, learners need both irregular past and past participle forms as items of vocabulary.




 Ethnicity mightn`t seem important in terms of language learning, but the absence of bars and alcohol in Arabia is useful in terms of language learning, because the scope of what can be read, or listened to, reflects upon what is spoken and written, that is, linguistic adeptness is restricted to within specific socio-cultural parameters of acceptability, which determine what is useful for students to learn in terms of linguistic expression and, though reductive, that`s helpful in second language acquisition and teaching. Analogously, if there`s a gas cooker in the kitchen that is redundant because of a microwave, linguistically it isn`t necessary to express it, that is, without bars and alcohol, Moslems in Islam don`t need the linguistic apparatus associated with them, which facilitates second language acquisition in terms of linguistic competence, because it excludes what the culture sees as extraneous to the business of life.


 Although that may seem overly Spartan to Westerners,1 it does make the business of ELT easier, because there`s greater focus on linguistic competence, rather than those aspects of recognitive social interaction that, for Middle Easterners, haven`t legitimate relevance; for example, `Ere, doll! You want some bacon puttin` in yer sandwich; to go with that pint yer sittin` wiv?` Obviously, the pint she`s sitting with is being accused of being a few drops short of a drink, but it`s not of any socio-linguistic relevance to Middle Easterners, who`re thankfully bereft of such alcohol fueled interactions, and so more open to the inculcating of linguistic competence from the English language teaching profession. As a consequence, some few grammatical forms, usages, and meanings can be dispensed with, because ease, usefulness, and frequency of apposite applicability are of more importance than difficulty, for example, `He has got a car.` Though used in America as standard English usage, simplified English is easier with elementary students, `He has a car.` What the Americans mean is, `He has bought a car.` Or `He has brought a car.` Its linguisitc laziness and neither the students` recognition nor productivity, is helped with that as an explanation. Consequently, have/has got shouldn`t be taught in English English as the Americans teach it, that is, as a separate recognitive grammar structure, and probably not as a form of the present perfect until pre-intermediate level, where it`s used, but not so ubiquitously as an indication of possession, for example, `He has got married.`



 When teaching grammar to non-native speakers, it isn`t recognitively advisable to teach them that they`re inaccurate, because of their native language, for example, in German `harben` is `have`, but Germans use present simple, where English uses present perfect: `Ich wohne seit 1970 in Wien.` The literal translation from German into English is: `I live since 1970 in Vienna.` The usage of `since` indicates completion after 1970, whereas `for` indicates completion during a defined period (Cowan, p. 367): `Ich wohne seit 25 Jahren in Wien.` In English the literal translation is: `I live for 25 years in Vienna.` Knowing why the mistake is made in German, that is, defining the period of time without indicating completion, leads to explanations using the mistake to indicate what not to do, whereas it`s more useful in terms of productivity to avoid teaching an lementary  student their mistakes, and the ELT professional`s knowledge of the non-native speakers` language mightn`t suffice. So, although there`s a temptation after the beginner and elementary levels to communicate in the learners` language, it`s better that pre-intermediate, intermediate, and upper-intermediate students correct their mistakes before the advanced levels through learning only correct grammar, that is, completion is after 1970, so: `I have lived in Vienna since 1970.` Or alternatively, when teaching to any non-native speaker the correct grammar of the past perfect in which a finished event is described as having occurred during a defined period of time, and where completion occurs during the period described: `I have lived in Vienna for 25 years.`


 The observation that the present perfect is used to describe actions that will be repeated depend on a supposed `sixth sense`, which isn`t actualy present in the recognitive sense of the grammatical structure, for example, `Your wife has rung.` (Parrot, p. 242) Consequently, the common perception that there`s a difference with achieved completion is mystical: `I`ve finished painting the room.` (Parrot, p. 242) I might paint the room again, and my wife mightn`t ring again. The notion that the present perfect indicates probable recurrence depends on common perception arrived at through usage as to what is likely to transpire, which of course produces more elaborately productive sentence structure in terms of clarification, but recurrence isn`t an integral part of the grammar, for example, `Your wife has rung twice, so I expect she`ll ring again later.` It`s not a part of the grammar that the completion implies recurrence, but rather of the language used. Consequently, recognitive grammar tables are most useful in inculcating correct usage with elementary students, because structure is clear for the learner and productive mistakes are explicable as error (Aitken, p. 22).


 A further straightforward recognitive method is to use a board pin, a board, and a piece of elastic, which works with pre-intermediate refresher students and higher. The board pin represents the past, which is anchored, and the stretching of the elastic backwards from the pin is used to indicate what has transpired since/for a period of time before `now` (Aitken, 25), which is a point somewhere ahead of the anchoring board pin. Similarly, less and more complicated narrative structures using pictures can be used recognitively to elicit a productive narrative description from elementary and intermediate students in terms of what`s `now`; the past time anchor, and what transpired before then. The teacher explains and elicits by moving the elastic backwards from the past time anchor to indicate what`s transpired before that completion and forward from the anchoring board pin to indicate `now`, for example, 1970 is back in the 20th century which isn`t now.




 Although the student didn`t specify whether they were a non-native or a native speaker, this request for clarification on a present perfect issue, which appeared on the internet`s  English Language Learners Stack Exchange (Dant, October 17, 22: 53) is illuminative of problems learners have: "I failed to understand the difference between the two sentences mentioned below a) `My father has worked at this company for 35 years` and b) `My father worked at this company for 35 years`" The respondent, P. E. Dant, explicated: "`My father has worked at this company for 35 years` suggests the work started 35 years ago, and continues to the present, whereas  `My father worked at this company for 35 years` tells us nothing about when the work began, but suggests it`s completed.`" Dant`s best advice is: `Don’t use the perfect unless you need it.` From a student`s point of view, it`s important to use the target language accurately, whereas nuance is fascinating to native speakers, which is the central problem for learners. Unnecessary overcomplication leads to obfuscation, confusion, and inability, that is, as the Americans colloquially say, `If it ain`t broke, don`t fix it.` (Lance) If students speak gramatically well, and use accurate grammatical structures productively, overelaboration based on fascination with nuance is recognitively counterproductive.




1 Slaves in warlike Sparta were killed en masse if their presence was deemed extraneous to Spartan necessity, .




Aitken, Rosemary Teaching Tenses, 2002, pp. 22-27.

Parrot, Martin `Present Perfect` in Grammar For English Language Teachers, Cambridge, Second Edition, Chapter 16, pp. 235-45.

Cowan, Ron `Tense And Aspect` in The Teacher`s Grammar Of English: Course Book and Reference Guide, Chapter 16, pp. 367-91.

Dant, P. E. `Problem With Present Perfect and Simple Past`, English Language Learners Stack Exchange, October 17, 22:53, .

Lance, Thomas Bertram, Director of President James Carter`s Office of Management and Budget, in the US Chamber of Commerce`s newsletter, Nation`s Business, May 1977, .

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in English Language Teaching

31/08/2021 15:12

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in English Language Teaching






  1. Language delay


1.1 Language difficulties

1.2 Rebooting

1.3 Specific delay

1.4 Lights, action

1.5 Motor function

1.6 Etiology

1.7 Coercion


  1. Phonic and whole-language theory in specific reading retardation


2.1 Phonic theory

2.2 Phonic method

2.3 Boot failure


  1. Intervention for dyslexia in early childhood


3.1 Paired reading

3.2 Time management

2.3 Active reading




Cognitive development refers to the progressive and continuous growth of perception, memory, imagination, conceptualization, judgment, and reason; it is the intellectual counterpart of biological adaptation within the environment. Cognition also involves the mental activities of comprehending information and the processes of acquiring, organizing, remembering, and using knowledge, which is used for problem solving and bringing a paradigm to novel situations. A significant Swiss theorist in this area, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), saw the individual as an active participant in the learning process. New learning took place as the individual interacted. According to Piaget, cognitive development was based on four factors; maturation, physical experience, social interaction, and progress toward equilibrium, that is, death, and which was termed 'genetic epistemology'.

 Lois Bloom and Erin Tinker (2001) proposed a model for language development that suggested its emergence from complex developments in cognition, social-emotional development, and motor skills, which complimented Piaget’s suggestion that the child learnt by acting, that is, what begins as sensorimotor activity transformed into complex, abstract thought.

 For Piaget, cognitive or intellectual development is the process of restructuring knowledge, and begins from a particular way of thinking; based on what the child knows. With novel experience comes disquiet, that is, the need to resolve what s/he knows with what s/he doesn’t. Piaget called this process ‘adaptation’, that is, the integration of new information, although of course that remains dependent on the society’s dominant paradigm, which is wage slavery for brains that mustn’t reach independence to avoid the slaver’s loss of motorized slaves.


  1. Language delay


There’s a distinction between secondary language delay (through intellectual disability, autism, hearing loss, or some other condition), and specific language delay, sub-classified as 'expressive', which is most common, and mixed receptive-expressive delay, which is most debilitating. Children with receptive delays only are rare, and it's of use to English language teachers to be aware of what might otherwise be understood only as the usual difficulties associated with second language acquisition (SLA).


1.1 Language difficulties


 Language difficulties may also be discerned in terms of phonology, semantics, syntax, pragmatics, and fluency. Phonological difficulties are manifested as inaccurate articulation of specific sounds; typically consonants rather than vowels. Posing the most difficulties are; r, l, f, v and s. Examples are omission, for instance 'ee' for 'sleep'; substitution; 'berry' for 'very', and cluster reduction; as in 'ream' for 'cream'. Where these reflect a preschooler’s difficulty in the motor skills required for correct articulation, the prognosis for language  development and reading skills remains good, and such children are indistinguishable from their peers by mid-childhood.


1.2 Rebooting


 However, with semantic difficulties, the child’s vocabulary is restricted, so only the meaning of a limited number of words, and their use in verbal communication, is understandable, which is also true of learners in SLA (second language acquisition). As that part of the brain, which 'boots' language learning ability in the child, atrophies in adulthood, it's 'rebooted' during English language learning activities, for example. Problems with syntax or grammar include restricted length of utterance and restricted diversity of utterance types, which is also true of beginners in SLA.

 Although by 2 years children are using multi-word utterances, those with specific language delays, characterized by syntactic difficulties, become slow to use multi-clausal sentences. If the same characteristic is observable in English language students engaged in SLA, it's likely symptomatic of problems originating with the 'bootloader', that is, adults, who've unknowingly overcome special educational needs (SEN) issues, or who're still engaged in dealing with learning difficulties, and exhibit the same symptoms as preschoolers, require additional stimulation to assist the brain in 'booting' the language learning centers that atrophy, and perhaps were never even fully operational.

 Problems with pragmatics occur where children are unable to use language, and/or gestures within particular relationships or contexts, to get their needs met and/or achieve communication goals. Up to age 2, integrating gesture with speech is a key pragmatic skill. In preschoolers up to age 5, such skills are used to tell coherent extended stories about events that happen. Although meaningful gesture, in imparting meaning through speech, differs locally, for example, shaking the head in Bulgarian means a decisive 'yes', and nodding the head means 'no', stuttering and cluttering are distinctive fluency problems in any and all cases.

 Cluttering is a too rapid rate of speech, and consequent breakdown, while stuttering is repetition, prolongation, and pauses disrupting the rhythmic flow of speech, which in children are indicative of learning difficulties, whereas among adults their appearance during SLA is perhaps also indicative of a student’s faulty 'bootloader', that is, the brain’s inability to upload the language learning faculties, which can devolve into undue criticism of the ELT professional; especially if the boot was originally flawed: or there only virtually.


1.3 Specific delay


 There’s a hierarchy of vulnerability in the components of language, which is affected in cases of specific delay. Children, whose symptoms improve, ascend this hierarchy; from the most vulnerable components of 'expressive phonology', then 'expressive syntax and morphology', to the least, that is, 'expressive semantics', then 'receptive language'.

 As a child with expressive semantic problems will develop expressive syntax and morphology problems, rather than receptive language problems, so an English language learner at the beginner level, or even more advanced, with problems in expressivity, could be suffering from the adult equivalent of ‘specific delay’ arising from brain atrophy, or originally damaged and unrepaired dysfunctionality arising at the left frontal lobe (Broca area), which French physician, Pierre Paul Broca (1861) discovered, and/or at the dominant cerebral hemisphere (Wernicke area). While its location fluctuates, depending on chirality (left or right-handedness), according to German physician, Carl Wernicke (1874), that is, left hemisphere in 95% of right handers, and 70% of left handers, the loading of language learning faculties occurs in these areas in nascent infancy.


1.4 Lights, action


 This hierarchy of vulnerability has led to the view that some etiological factors must be common to all language disorders. Moreover, there’s no doubt that some factors are specific to particular disorders. All language delays are more common in boys than girls, so gender-related biological factors are involved, that is, the desire to be a fertilizer, conflicting with the desire to process. Although a delay in the development of speeded fine-motor skills, rather than general clumsiness, characterizes most specific language delay, language and motor delay may reflect underlying neurological failure; finding expression in slow information-processing. In adult SLA, limited information-processing capacity translates as an inability to ‘reboot’ as a ‘film producer', where ‘action’ depends on new communicants.


1.5 Motor function


 Although genetic factors play a significant role in most secondary language delay, and in specific receptive-expressive language disorder, probably not in early specific expressive language delay. Otitis media, that is, middle-ear infection, at 12–18-months, precedes rapidly resolving specific expressive language delay at 2 years, and expressive language delay at 2 years is associated with problems in oral motor development.

 To develop the computing analogy further, as all programs have ‘drivers’, those that interfere with learning through the ears are ‘demon drivers’, which won’t want SLA; either for children or adults, because that would interfere with their first boot, and/or any subsequent boot potentially threatening to the slaver of the driven’s motor; including a reboot, which essentially is the freedom of the ‘route' that English language learning, and SLA per se, offers to the ‘learner driver’, who's used to having the gear shift on the left, for example, rather than the right, and wants to see if the grass really is greener on the other side; or is it just going past the mirror from the opposite direction?


1.6 Etiology


 It’s unlikely that psychosocial factors play a major etiological role in most cases of specific developmental language delay. However, they may maintain language problems. Low socio-economic status; large family size, and problematic parent-child interaction patterns, involving conduct problems, characterize many cases of language disorder.

 With severe disorder, conduct problems become worse. A variety of mechanisms may link psychosocial factors to language problems; frustration in the areas of communicating with others, or achieving valued goals, expressed as misconduct; difficulties controlling  conduct with self-admonishing 'inner speech', and poor parenting skills aligned with multiple stress, for example, large family size, and low socio-economic status, result in children and/or parents becoming trapped in coercive cycles of interaction, so preventing the development of language skills through engaging in positive verbal exchange. Although conduct and language problems are often expressive of such underlying neurological failure, it's the job of the teacher to give students, young and old, a collective ‘boot up'.


1.7 Coercion


 With specific expressive language disorder, preschool interventions don’t aid recovery rates; the result of maturing. Parents are advised not to coerce children to talk; but accept intervention. If there’s no improvement at 5 years, it’s possible those experiencing difficulties are involved in coercive cycles of interaction, so behavioral parent training is indicated.

 In cases of specific receptive-expressive, and secondary language disorders, referral for an individualized speech program; involvement of parents in home implementation aspects of the program, and placement of the child in a more conducive  environment, for example, at a language school, singly or in combination, are likely to result in more than positive short-term effects. Speech and language programs, that is, SLA courses, especially conducted in conjunction with home and school-based behavioral management, represent a real chance of taking the chequered flag ahead of the driven and the demons.


  1. Phonic and whole-language theory in specific reading retardation


 Specific learning disabilities, as distinct from intellectual disability, that is, mental retardation, and specific language delays, are classified by reference to the specific skill in which deficits appear, for example, reading, spelling and writing. Phonic, and 'whole language theory', endeavor to explain the causes of 'specific reading retardation' or 'dyslexia'.


2.1 Phonic theory


 To read, according to 'phonic theory', children learn sounds associated with letters, and use these 'building blocks' to read and spell. The word 'cat' is built from three sounds associated with the letters 'c', 'a' and 't', for example. Contrastingly, in whole-language theory children learn to recognize whole words, rather than piece them together. Accordingly, the sound of unfamiliar words is learned by guessing from the context in which they occur, and getting teacher feedback. The child learns 'cat' sounds as it does, because the teacher reads the word to them under a picture, for example,  'The dog chased the cat.'


2.2 Phonic method


 Phonological theory gave rise to the 'phonic method' of teaching reading, which requires the child to learn corresponding sounds for each letter. However, whole-language theory also produced a variety of contextual teaching methods; for example, 'look-and-say', whereby  the child's taught to contextually recognize words. Although children use phonic-decoding, and whole-language contextual strategies, success remains dependent upon achieving a  developmental level of reading, while material cost, defrayed against benefit of accurate performance, remains the overriding issue for both adults and children; irrespective of boot failings.


2.3 Boot failure


 The theory of reading, which has received real credence, is based on children’s perception of rhyme and alliteration as the most important precursor of reading skills, for example, 'cat' permits of rhyming to assist with reading words; like mat, sat or pat, which involves awareness of similar sounds, that is, the phonological similarity of the rhyming words, and their orthographic similarity: how they're written. Children who develop the skills of recognizing phonological and orthographic similarities become good readers, whereas those with ‘boot failure’ develop reading problems.


  1. Intervention for dyslexia in early childhood


Remediation programs for children with specific reading difficulties are based on a thorough assessment of their abilities and potential resources. With material increasing in difficulty as the child progresses, there should be a cumulative acquisition of reading and spelling skills. Training in reading passages of text, and the use of exercises to improve phonic awareness, for example, rhymes and alliteration, have better outcomes, in terms of teaching decoding and spelling skills, than do methods focusing on contextual cues and meaning-based strategies.


3.1 Paired reading


 Parental involvement, in brief periods of daily paired reading, is a highly effective preventative and treatment strategy. Parents, who're trained to simultaneously read with their children, can reach independence with them, and find mutual respect through shared participation in correcting original boots, and errors in rebooting. Error correction by a parent/adult modelling correct pronunciation is balanced by the silent parent/adult listening to the child reading unaided. If a child encounters error, the parent/adult models correct pronunciation. Multisensory approaches to spelling are effective, and simultaneous oral spelling particularly. Given a model word to copy, the child copies, and concurrently says each letter aloud; so visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities are used simultaneously.

 After the adult/teacher’s checking, letter by letter, what has been written, against the modelled word, for three consecutive correct trials, the procedure is repeated, but then the model word is covered and written from memory. The procedure is followed with small groups of words, practiced for three consecutive days; until the spellings have been learned: coupled with a reward chart to maintain motivation.


3.2 Time management


 Adolescents may offset boot failings by developing good study skills; time management, active reading, and mapping. In time management, the three main skills are; making a calendar of time slots; chunking work material; prioritizing chunks; slotting them into the calendar at appropriate times, and troubleshooting when difficulties occur while implementing the study plan.

 Youngsters take account of whether they work best morning or evening; concentration span, which is 50 minutes for most teenagers, and work/leisure commitments. In chunking and prioritizing work, account should be taken of how much material is to be covered in a 50-minute slot; what topics can be studied for multiple consecutive periods, and which are best studied for a single period sandwiched in between other topics. When troubleshooting difficulties, the goal of the study plan has priority and, along with reinforcement, there’s need for leisure activities, construable for adolescents as rewards.




2.3 Active reading


 The routine extraction of meaning from texts, and the remembering of points as coherent knowledge structures, is ‘active reading'. Teachers facilitate scanning of the text by the student; note the headings, and read the overview and summary; if provided. After listing the main questions to be answered by a detailed reading of each section, and writing down the answers, the questions are re-read and the answers; then with the answers covered, the questions are asked again and the answers recited from memory. Reviewing the answers’ accuracy, teachers and/or students can draw out a visuo-spatial representation of the material to post on the wall, and/or by the web; a cognitive reference map to boot.





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Carr, A. (2015), The Handbook of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology: A Contextual Approach, Routledge.

Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., and Spinrad, T. L. (2006), Handbook of Child Psychology.

Freud, Sigmund (1923-5), The Ego and the Id and Other Works. Vol. XIX, 1953-74, The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud (ed. James Strachey),  Hogarth: London.

Frost, J. L., Wortham, S. C., and Reifel, R. S. (2001), ‘Play and Child Development’, Merrill, Prentice Hall.

Jung, Carl Gustav (1934-55), Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Vol. 9, Part I, 1953-80, The Complete Works of C. G. Jung (exec. ed. W. McGuire), Routledge Kegan Paul: London.

Koffka, K. (2013), The Growth of the Mind: An Introduction to Child-Psychology, Routledge.

Kuhn, D. and Siegler, R.O.B.E.R.T. (2006), Handbook of Child Psychology, J. Wiley.

Kratochwill, T. R., and Morris, R. J. (eds.) (1991), The Practice of Child Therapy (2nd edition), Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc.

Ollendick, T. H., King, N. J., and Yule, W. (eds.) (1994), International Handbook of Phobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents, New York: Plenum Press.

Piaget, John The Principles of Genetic Epistemology, New York: Basic Books, 1972.

Schaffer, H. R. (2004), Introducing Child Psychology, Blackwell Publishing.

Schroeder, Carolyn S., and Gordon, Betty N. (1991), Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems: A Clinician's Guide, Guilford Publications.

Shaffer, D. R., and Kipp, K. (2013), Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence, Cengage Learning.

Singleton, N. C. and Shulman, B. B. (2013), Language Development: Foundations, Processes, and Clinical Applications, Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Wernicke (1995) ‘The Aphasia Symptom-complex: A psychological Study on an Anatomical Basis' (1875) in Paul Eling (ed.) Reader in the History of Aphasia: from Franz Gall to Norman Geschwind, Classics in Psycholinguistics 4, John Benjamins Publishing Co., Amsterdam, pp. 69-89.

Zeliadt, Nicholette (2017), ‘Autism Genetics, Explained’, Spectrum, June 27th, .

Researching an Area of Language (with KJ Hannay)

13/08/2021 14:07



Teaching English in the Middle East, where Islam is the predominant religion, people are forbidden to talk about it with foreigners. The solution is to avoid the topic; for fear of being offensive: or saying something misconstrued. However, honesty is important with Islamic people, who`re genuinely interested in other cultures, because it helps with English usage, although the real difficulty is that Moslems are exhorted to fulfill what they’re taught to see as their duty to convert others to belief in Islam, which is based on the Koran (610-30 C.E.), dictated by the angels to their Prophet Mohamed, as the word of God, who is ‘Allah’ in their Koran, so discourse with Christianity, for example, is fraught with resistance, which is why the subject is taboo, or haraam in Arabic.

Composed of mind, body and spirit, humanity should be developing, which is what students want to hear. It`s a spiritual decision to keep fit by going to the gym, eat the appropriate foods, and maintain general well-being, so spirituality is a general concern, so basic to English language use. As it`s a decision, intellectually, to write an essay, or put mental effort into preparing for an exam, spirit and religion are proximates, because God is often invoked as an aid through prayer. Spiritually religious people struggle to improve; practicing charity, kindliness, humility, patience and diligence; for example. For Moslems going to a mosque, or for Christian churchgoers, there are feelings of religiosity, but not necessarily the spirit of improvement. Consequently, it`s useful to distinguish between `spiritual` and `religion`; for example. For some prayerful `religious` means repetition, that is, remembering prayers, and ritual observances, whereas a reliance on the spiritual entails a less structured belief in memory and ritual, that is, faith, which is why Moslem believers in Islam describe themselves as ‘the faithful’.

Although there is semantic overlap between the terms, ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’, they aren’t synonyms. Corpus linguistics techniques on the British National Corpus (BNC), and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), are useful in investigating usage. Consequently, the examination of similarities and differences between the terms `religious` and `spiritual` ought to begin with an introduction of the corpora, BNC and COCA, before focusing on the use of the terms in the sub-corpora of newspapers.




The Collins online COBUILD Learner’s Dictionary defines `religious` as having `belief in a god or gods` ( The definition for `spiritual` is, ‘peoples thoughts and beliefs’, and/or ‘related to peoples religious beliefs’ (, which implies they’re synonyms. However, spirituality is related to belief, which belief might be religious, but not necessarily so. However, as Collins` definitions highlight difficulties in clearly defining usage, there’s semantic overlap. In other words, there are mutually exclusive aspects of meaning to the terms ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’, but without sufficient contextual information for the speaker, reader, or writer to determine how words are used with appropriateness, errors occur. Students need to differentiate between words that appear with synonyms (Walker, C., 2011; Alabader, Y. B., 2011), which is where corpus linguistics proves insightful.


Literature review


Synonymy links vocabulary items, so facilitates acquisition (Partington, A., 1989: 39). Usage avoids repetition within texts, which adds nuance to meaning and keeps the mind of the reader or listener alert, rather than numb with monotony, while allowing users opportunities to construct sentences communicative across a range of disparate themes; notwithstanding semantic similarity. Synonymy is `having the same completed sense`, though not the same absolute frame of reference. The types, `strict` and `loose`; are worthy of discussion. Strict (absolute) synonyms are used interchangeably. Substitution of a word for another doesn`t result in change in meaning; style, and connotation: in terms of what is said or written (Jackson, H., and Amvela, E., 2000). Such synonyms are rare or non-existent (McCarthy, M., O’Keeffe, A., and Walsh, S., 2010).  Corpus-based studies of synonymous adverbs, for example, ‘broadly’ and ‘largely’ (Tognini-Bonelli, E., 2001), and ‘finally’ and ‘lastly’ (Tsui, A., 2005), exhibit the usefulness of distinguishing. As Alabder (2001) states, corpus analysis is an appropriate method for understanding the similarities and differences between seemingly interchangeable words, so allowing us to present more specific criteria and suggestions for usage.




Data was taken from BNC and COCA. The BNC is a 100 million word collection of samples of spoken and written language from a wide range of sources designed to represent a wide cross-section of British English from the early 1990s. The written part (90%) includes; for example, extracts from regional and national newspapers, specialist periodicals and journals, academic books, fiction, published/unpublished letters and memoranda, and school and university essays; amongst other kinds of text.

The spoken part (10%) consists of orthographic transcriptions of unscripted informal and formal spoken language. COCA is the largest freely-available corpus of English, and the only large and balanced corpus of American English. The corpus contains more than 520 million words of text, and is equally divided among spoken, fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, and academic texts. Including 20 million words each year from 1990 to 2015, the corpus is updated regularly, so COCA and BNC are representative. According to Leech, G. (1991), such a corpus’ findings are general to the language as a whole; or a specified part of it.




A key concept in corpus investigation bearing close examination is collocation, which refers to the ‘regular and predictable co-occurrence of words in a text or an utterance’ (Coulthard, M., et al, 2000, p. 77). McCarthy (1990) characterizes collocation as a ‘marriage contract between words’ (p. 12) and states ‘marriage is stronger between some words than others’. Originally coined as a technical term by Firth, J. R. (1957), the collocation of a given word was said to be ‘a statement on the habitual or customary placing of a word’ and that ‘a word is known by the company it keeps’, which was later extended by, among others, Sinclair, J. (1991), Hoey, C. (1991), and Hunston, S. (2002), to include lexical items that appear with greater random probability than their individual frequencies would lead us to expect. Collocation refers to the `co-occurrence of words` (Sinclair, J., 2000: 200), reflecting their tendencies to appear near each other in line with the idiom principle; for example:


‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight;

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.’

(Matt: 16. 2-3)


The words co-occurring are ‘red’, ‘sky’, and ‘shepherd’, that is, the verse from the New Testament of the Christian Bible, which is based on the 1395 translation, directed by John Wycliffe, about the perceived consequences of a change in the weather meaning a pleasant day’s work, or conversely, uses a collocation. The importance for the study is that, although collocations are useful in transmitting information idiomatically to children, that is, the morning will be fine if there’s a red sunset, language students need to know a much wider variety of words, which may seem merely synonyms, but they have other meanings in different contexts; for example, after a shepherd/pastor has rested, he/she has to preach to the congregation the following day. Consequently, the learning of synonyms is useful in avoiding repetition, that is, rote responses and actions, which may be religious, but not necessarily spiritual, whereas knowledge of the synonym ‘shepherd’, as meaning ‘pastor’, enriches the spirit and mental ability of the language student. The idiomatic poem is repetitive, which is ‘good’ English only insofar as it’s educative of more than weather phenomenon. The synonym ‘shepherd’ within the collocation ‘red sky’ is designed for the student to learn, which is what they need to know from their teacher. Synonyms are multivalent linguistic tools designed to communicate across a wide range of meaningful contexts; so are worth learning.

There are a number of ways to determine the level of significance between instances of words within corpus linguistics (Xiao, R., and McEnery, T., 2006). The statistical test looked at MI (mutual information) scores; a measure of the strength of association between words that compares the expected (or random), and actual instances of co-occurrence. A score of above 3 was significant, that is, a strong indicator of association, and high scores for collocates were examined.

Frequency is an important concept in linguistics (Linquist, H., 2009). The number of examined words appearing in a corpus are their ‘raw frequency’, which presents no problems with corpora of equal size. However, most corpora are not of an equal size, so what’s compared are normalized frequencies per thousand or million words, which necessitated comparing the main corpora and sub-corpora of BNC and COCA.

Further scrutiny of collocation and phraseology reveals the semantic prosodies of word combinations; the linguistic phenomenon of words or phrases becoming positively or negatively colored in meaning through their frequent collocates. (Louw, B., 1993). The perceived tendency towards using collocates is ‘semantic preference’, and assists in creating a profile of a word, for example, ‘shepherd’, showing how certain collocates can be bound together in extended units of meaning (Sinclair, J., 1996).




Concordance lines are another starting point for the study of collocations using corpus linguistics tools, as Kennedy, G. (1998) says (p. 247). Concordances are lines of text of a given length featuring the word being investigated; otherwise known as the node in the center of the page with its surrounding context; for example, ‘shepherd’. This context is then examined, and patterns, if any, are then drawn from the relationship between words. The expanded context of concordance lines is key because, as Kennedy, G. (1991) says, ‘collocates are sometimes separated by intervening words.` according to Biber, D., Conrad, S., and Reppen, R. (1998), `... the simplest way to identify collocate pairs is by their frequency, which can give a sense of the most common collocational associations ..’. Posing some difficulties for non-native English language students, who’re expecting to find unalterable signifiers in their collocates, is high frequency collocates of a given node consisting of high frequency words, so collocating frequently with words other than the examined, for example, ‘blood-red’, where blood collocates with red, rather than sky, points the student’s mind in the direction of the shepherd, Jesus, as their pastor, that is, the ‘blood of the lamb’ they’re washed in; to be cleansed from sin during baptism and/or communion: but that’s difficult.


Quantitative and qualitative


Both quantitative and qualitative techniques are required; affording the explanation that a shepherd can be a pastor, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ (Ps: 23. 1) The Lord is God; not the local landowner. God isn’t a synonym for the aristocracy. Although the pastor speaks from the Bible the word of God, in Christianity ‘the Lord’ is Jesus, who is recorded in the New Testament as saying: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Mk: 12. 31) Consequently, Jesus is synonymous with ‘shepherd’, which is educative. Students of English resort to synonyms to avoid learning more words, because they have a sufficiency, whereas the result is sterile repetition, for example, congregations have a shepherd, because they don’t need the word ‘pastor’. However, as pastor is synonymous with shepherd in churchgoing terms, learning that synonyms are found with collocations, because that’s their linguistic use, is what language students want to know; for example, the lyrics to the musical composition, ‘New Year’s Day’, from the album, War (1983), by the Irish rock group U2, is about hopes for a resolution to the problem of sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, which requires a knowledge of what the synonyms are that the collocations ‘blood-red’ and ‘red sky’ refer to, that is, war and the shepherd, Jesus:


‘Under a blood-red sky

A crowd has gathered in black and white.

Arms entwined, the chosen few,

Newspapers say, it says it's true.

And we can break through,

Though torn in two we can be one.’


Blood is synonymous with war, so the collocations, ‘blood-red’ and ‘red sky’ have different associations and meanings, that is, blood-red is a mythological reference to the Roman war god, Mars, for example, because Mars is the ‘red planet’ associated with masculinity in opposition to Venus, goddess of love, while the collocation ‘red sky’ is associated with the Lord God, and the Lord Jesus. As the shepherd, who is perceived as being synonymous with the pastor, God, of the 23rd psalm of the Old Testament of the Jewish Bible, that is, the Talmud and Torah, which is the history and law of the Jews, Jesus’ New Testament had relevance for the future of Protestants and Catholics torn apart by differences, which those who saw Protestantism and Catholicism as being synonymous with the acceptance of Jesus’ teaching, couldn’t comprehend: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ (Mk: 12. 31) In short, the collocations ‘blood-red’ and ‘red-sky’ respectively hold the key to the synonyms; war, that is, ‘blood-red’ Mars, and Christianity’s ‘shepherd’. Henry VIII’s decision to become head of the English Protestant church in 1531, as apart from the then Pope, Clement VII, in Catholicism’s city of Rome, Italy, affords greater meaning to the juxtaposition of the collocations, ‘blood-red’ and ‘red sky’, because his role as England’s pastor resulted in civil war between Protestants and Catholics, whereas understanding that the color is red doesn’t confer any meaning other than that for a lazy student.




The total number of instances for the occurrence in the BNC of the word `religious` is 6,443, or `hits` in 1,194 different texts. The normalized frequency is 65.5 per million words (pmw). The word `spiritual` occurs 2,300 times, or `hits` in 648 different texts. The normalized frequency is 23.39 instances pmw. The total number of BNC texts is 4,048 with 100 million words (Source: As represented by data from corpus findings, `religious` prevails over `spiritual` in ordinary usage, while both are evenly distributed over the corpora in approximately 1 in 4 of main texts. The BNC raw frequency data for `religious` was 6,376 and for `spiritual` 2,281. The COCA raw data for each of these words was 57,898 and 21,370 respectively. Though not comparable, the figures arguably show `religious` to be used more in general English than `spiritual` across both corpora at a ratio of approximately 3:1.

Although the different frequency counts included in the sub-corpora of the BNC give an indication of how the words are used pmw, it’s evident that the collocations, ‘religious leader’ and ‘negro spiritual’, are mutually exclusive linguistic constructs, that is, ‘religious’ isn’t synonymous with ‘spiritual’, because that’s a type of song sung by black slaves; for example, in the deep South of the United States, during the period prior to the American Civil War (1861-5) waged by the Northern States and the US government to manumit them.


Node words


For students of English language, collocations represent the requirement of understanding the synonym within its concordance, because that’s how speech and writing improves. Although ‘Old Folks at Home’ is a ‘religious song’, written by Stephen Foster in 1851, its taxonomy is that of ‘negro-spiritual’, so concomitant to understanding the difference between collocation and synonym is the history of slavery, which is an improvement in linguistic use dependent on a deeper knowledge of ‘spiritual’ as being a part of a concordance referred to by a collocation as its node word:


‘Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,

Far, far away,

Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,

Dere's wha de old folks stay.’


Both ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ have different frequencies pmw. The word `religious` across all the sub-corpora is higher on a ratio of 2 or 3 to 1 compared with `spiritual`. Perhaps less so in the sub-corpora for magazines where `religious` is used slightly more, which is attributable to readers’ interests for softer news, or less serious articles during leisure time. ‘Spiritual-ity’ encompasses a broader range of personal interest subjects; such as meditation, yoga, and personal growth.


Table 1 BNC- The frequency of ‘religious' by sub-corpora



Table 2 BNC- The frequency of ‘spiritual’ by sub-corpora



 Table 3 COCA - The frequency of the appearance of ‘religious’ by sub-corpora



Table 4 COCA - The frequency of the appearance of ‘spiritual’ by sub-corpora



In terms of ratios, BNC and COCA patterns are similar, with `religious` used more across all sub-corpora (pmw). There`s a higher number pmw for `religious` across all sub-corpora compared to BNC except for fiction, which requires further investigation to be accounted for. Hypothetically, American society is more religious than the UK`s, or there`s greater focus on ‘religious’ concepts, as well as `spiritual`, because of US’ President George W. Bush’s 2003 declared ‘War on Terror’, and the subsequent scrutiny of Islam and Moslem culture, after the emergence of the Al Qaeda terror group, which hijacked civil airliners to crash into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre on Manhattan island in New York city on September 11, 2001, while the subsequent proclamation, by the advocates of the Independent Levant (IL), of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as its Caliph, similarly resulted in an increase in the frequency of the usage of the words ‘religious’ and  ‘spiritual’ in societal discourse, with the context suggesting ‘religious’ as being more applied to Islamic matters, while ‘spiritual’ was used to refer to Christian issues, because of the pivotal role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ teaching, and societies based on Western Christianity.

Although BNC is a static corpus, which hasn`t been added to significantly since the 1990s, COCA is dynamic. However, the fact that pmw there’s a much larger frequency for `religious` supports the argument that terror promoted the use of concepts associated with the word ‘religious’ and ‘Islam’, which had mainly negative connotations, while the word ‘spiritual’ was used positively, and in contrast to the subject topic of pertinent concordances; for example, the relatively new collocation of ‘religious terror’, when juxtaposed with Jesus’ older, and more desirable notion, conveyed by the collocation ‘spiritual peace’.




Concentrating on the sub-corpora of newsprint, the likely differences in use of news discourse across British and American publications could be determined, and also whether `religious` or `spiritual` collocated negatively or positively. According to Fairclough, N. (1989), media power is cumulative, and profoundly influences readers by producing discourse; or helping reshape it. Becker, H. (1972), describes a ‘hierarchy of credibility’, whereby powerful people`s opinions are accepted, as it`s assumed they have the most up to date and accurate information; summarized by Hall, S., et al (1978):


‘... the result of this structured preference given in the media to the opinions of the powerful is that these “spokesmen” become what we call the primary definers of topics’ (p. 58).


In short, opinion has an influence upon whether Islam is ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’, whereas it’s a fact that Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam, which means ‘spiritual terror’ would derive from there, while ‘spiritual’ remains an English word influenced by powerful opinion, that is, public opinion could be influenced away from using the collocation ‘spiritual terror’ by Sufism, so emboldening Christianity’s belief that its spiritual power is unshakeable. A basic word search in both the BNC and COCA for collocational patterns with 4 noun words to the left and right within the sub-corpora of newspapers used relevance to sort and determine MI score with a minimum frequency of 5 `hits` as the criteria.


Table 5 BNC - L4R4 Collocates with ‘religious’ and MI score



Table 6 BNC-collocates with ‘spiritual’ and MI score



Searches in the BNC list reveal collocations with neutral words that haven`t apparent negative prosody, and `cult` was the only word appearing to have an immediate negative connotation, which was confirmed from concordance analysis. Some of the neutral words were researched using concordancing, which results are listed.


Table 7 COCA- R4L4 collates with ‘religious’ and MI score



Interestingly, the word `religious` produced words with a strong MI score; collocating negatively. Concordance analysis was used to try to determine the surrounding discourse and co-text, and so explain the MI score.


Table 8 COCA - R4L4 collocates with ‘spiritual’ and MI score



Words that collocate neutrally with the word `spiritual` are `seeker, dimension, pursuits, well-being`, etc., and words that collocate positively are `enlightenment, healing, purity, uplift`, etc. The word ‘Ayatollah’ appears in stark contrast, because of its primary associations with the country of Iran`s volatility, where Ayotollah Khomeini instigated a Revolution against the Shah in 1978, so resonating a discourse relationship of war and conflict in terms of the word`s collocations with `spiritual` and `religious`.


Table 9 BNC- religious ‘beliefs’



Collocate belief in concordance lines reveals negative discourse prosody, which is apparent in the term `Ayatollah` being used in the reporting of negative news. In the first instance, religious beliefs are connected with a fatwā, that is, an Islamic death sentence imposed by Khamenei upon the Indian subcontinent’s Moslem from Mumbai, Salman Rushdie, on February 14th 1989, for writing in his novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), about the An-Najm chapter of the Koran, ‘The Unfolding’ (53. 19-22), concerning three goddesses, al-Lāt, al-‘Uzzá and Manāt, suggesting that women were originally hermaphroditic, ‘Are you to have the males, and he the females?’ The second instance of negative reporting features a terrorist bomb attack upon Khamenei, while the last appears a neutral announcement of a TV appearance by the Ayatollah.


Table 10 BNC - spiritual ‘leader’



A more neutral term would appear to be `spiritual leader`, but in concordancing it`s invariably linked with political discourse and leans to a more negative discoursal prosody. News tends to be focused on negative articles anyway, so it`s difficult to determine actual usage of the term `spiritual leader`, whereas ‘spiritual home’ as a collocate has positive prosody in its surrounding text.


Table 11 BNC - spiritual ‘home’



Table 12 COCA - Religious ‘Ayatollah’



Although the context for `religious` and `Ayatollah` is political, its usage tends towards the informative and respectful. The words `spiritual` and `Ayatollah` are used as synonyms; for example ‘supreme religious leader’ precedes Sayed Ali Khamenei`s name.


Table 13 COCA - Spiritual ‘seeker’



The term `spiritual seeker` frequently occurs with ‘dreamer’, ‘sweet’, ‘truth’, and ‘self-discovery’, although some words denote negativity; for example, ‘persecution’ and ‘martyr’, which more frequently occur with the term `religious`.


Table 14 COCA - Spiritual ‘Ayatollah’



`Ayatollah` used with `spiritual` doesn`t appear to have strong negative prosody. Although it appears to be used in the context surrounding discourse to do with Iran, it`s politically informative and so collocates neutrally. The collocational relationship is strictly synonymous with `religious Ayatollah`, that is, in the case of `Ayatollah`, `religious` and spiritual` seem generally interchangeable for English speakers, which is alarming from the perspective of a public opinion possibly influenced by Islamic Sufism to be unable to differentiate between Islamic religious extremism and Islamic spirituality, which is potentially terroristical and manipulative through spiritual Sufism.




Corpus study reveals detailed information about apparent word synonymy and collocational relations with respect to these words and the significance of this, both in everyday discourse and communication, but more specifically its impact on language and meaning, through the very powerful sub-corpora of news media. Both ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ are words used to some extent as synonyms. The word `religion` is used more commonly in everyday discourse; across a wide range of genre types: according to BNC and COCA. Analysis shows a negative collocational statistical relationship between `religious` and its collocates with high MI scores in news discourse in the United States, which appears the result of the `War on Terror`, although the concordance text either side of the node suggests not exclusively so. In the BNC, which wasn`t added to since the 1990s, there`s negativity surrounding ‘religious’, although not such negativity as within the contemporary American context. `Spiritual` wasn`t unaffected either in terms of negative discourse prosody. It`s difficult to draw conclusions as news media`s concentration on newsworthiness tends to be negative. Quantitative lists for negative and positive prosody are inconclusive, without qualitative analysis, which was illustrated by ‘Ayatollah’ used with `religious` and `spiritual` in COCA news sub-corpora, where it was found to have a neutral standing. With corpus analysis, it`s difficult to simplify and clearly define terms; definitions and meaning depend on context and change with time. Religion and belief are increasingly important in world affairs, and as news has such an important impact on society at large, the meaning of the terms as used remains of paramount importance to native speakers in English usage, and non-native speakers, who may perforce unwisely use collocations with synonyms without any understanding of the depth of meaning in their concordances.




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Walker, C. (2011) How a corpus-based study of the factors which influence collocation can help in the teaching of business English. English for Specific Purposes, 30 (2), pp. 101-112.

Xiao, R., and McEnery, T. (2006) Corpus Based Language Study. Routledge Applied Linguistics.

English Language Teaching in China

06/12/2020 00:18

English Language Teaching in China




It’s generally accepted that English language is the lingua franca for global interactions (Zhu, 2003), whether for travel; the worldwide web; entertainment and movies; international business: or education. Consequently, China recognizes the importance of equipping its citizens with English skills to communicate effectively, so ensuring competitiveness at the international level. The Chinese view native speakers more favorably as ‘linguistically privileged’ (Wang and Wen, 2016). Conversely, Chinese non-native English speakers, who speak Mandarin, or their local dialect as the primary language, are significantly disadvantaged. The officialese language of China, Mandarin replaced ‘Classical Chinese’, kanbun (漢文), which had predominated after the close of what’s known as the Spring and Autumn (771-476 B.C.) period of China’s Zhou dynasty. Mandarin is actually a vernacular form equivalent to ‘broad Yorkshire’, for example, so it’s yokel characteristics are weighted towards dictation, that is, the carrying out of dictatorial administrative edicts by serfs, which is detrimental in terms of the inculcation of higher learning.


 What’s known as the second Eastern Zhou was that of ‘the Warring States period’, and represented the defeat of alternative perspectives derived from a ‘Classical Chinese’ literary point of view that arose during the Western Zhou period founded by its first king, Wu, after a battle (c. 1046) to replace king Zhou [sic] of the Shang dynasty at Muye, southwest of its capital city, Yin, central Henan province. In simple terms, the war dogs won and China was ‘dumbed down’. Despite a revival of ‘Literary Chinese’, during China’s second Empire (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) of the Han dynasty, a period known as a ‘golden age’, and that might be readily translated by the West as a ‘hand dynasty’, that is, handwritten literature, Mandarin officialese was ultimately deemed a more direct linguistic tool for directing simple Chinese folk.



 However, in seeking reform and support for its citizens in the learning and use of English (Fang, 2017), the Chinese trend since 2001 has been towards primary schools. A Ministry of Education policy directive required children aged 9 to 10, in Grade 3, to learn the foreign language. Mandatory for all schools, whether urban or rural, all Chinese children would be afforded access, which suggested that Mandarin officialese might meet with some state approved resistance from local intelligentsia, so long as it didn’t interfere with communist China’s dictatorship, a modern ideological perspective representing a state sponsored, and so universally sanctioned belief, that workers’ control was what they had, so was the best form of governance administered through Mandarin ‘yokel’.


 The change revealed significant differences within the rural and urban divide in China. The household registration system, known as hukou (Hao et al., 2014), is hierarchical. Urban dwellers receive higher standing than those in rural areas, according to the General Social Survey (Li and Ranieri, 2013), for example, which produces unequal/unfair resource distribution. A proportionate decrease in support for rural students as they progress through the educational stages results in failure to raise their socio-economic profile.


 To counter traditional and long-standing exam-centered education in China’s basic schooling, competence-based education was promoted and, regarded as the goal of the innovation, proposed higher standards (better training, and a higher level of English) for teachers, whose support and understanding of the new reforms in 2001 played a vital role in the outcome. Its implementing in rural schools in China was linked to the ideals underpinning UNESCO’s Dakar ‘Education for All’ initiative, which stated inequality in education must be avoided and prevented (OECD, 2016) so as to not transmit poverty across the generations. The Chinese aim was to identify teachers’ professional development needs (dello-Lacovo, 2009) in the implementation of a new curricula. During the transition to a Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach, the advantages of conversational English were weighed against the virtues of traditional rote memorization, and students’ advancement solely through knowledge of academic procedures.


 China officially started its students English language learning program at Grade 3 in primary school in 2011. The tendency was towards English as a communications’ tool. Communicative teaching relies heavily on eliciting verbal responses. Urban school students had more opportunities to speak English, because of their relative internationalism, whereas rural students didn’t, so experienced a lack of motivation, which needed to be addressed in the training of teachers in the Communicative Method. As the government emphasized communicative teaching, it was more student-centered. However, the teacher-centered exam-orientated approach remained embedded within the system, that is, a traditional Chinese education ideal of an instructor directing students to memorize. Problems during the implementation of curricula reforms, especially in rural primary schools (Thomas and Postlethwaite, 2014), related to the perspectives, quality and standards of English language trained teachers. Examinations needed to objectively determine communicational ability in order to produce fair results. However, although text books were provided for communicative English, teachers of mixed ability were found to have subjectivities incommensurate with examining objectively.




Since the founding of the People’s Republic by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedung in 1949, there’ve been two education systems in China. The Chinese Empire had been ruled inefficiently during the Qing dynasty (1636-1912) and was overthrown, according to China’s sexagenary calendar cycle, in the Xinhai (‘metal pig’) Revolution of 1912, which was followed by a disastrous period of strong local rule known as ‘the Warlord Era’. The failed autocracy of General Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC), which had introduced the Examination Yuan for the civil service in 1928, resulted in the emergence of the Communist Republic of China (CPC) through Civil War (1927-49). An examination-oriented approach towards education had owed much to the historical need for preparing Imperial administrators since the Tang dynasty (618-907), but by 2010 the quality-oriented approach superseding exam-based assessments had become a further revolutionary movement. China introduced a nine-year compulsory education requirement in which both urban and rural students would have schooling without fees; from Grade 1 through Grade 9. The aim was to ensure urban and rural equal education opportunity (Li, 2012). Some rural students hadn’t been able to go to school because of fees. The comprehensive reform solved that issue. It would be the same for urban and rural students; all would have equal opportunity to progress.


 Now that it was viewed as essential to converse in English (Hu, 2010), that is, to modernize the nation, and become more competitive internationally within rural China and its urban areas (Wang, 2013), fluency was socially, economically, intellectually and nationally prestigious. Nevertheless, English language teaching was perceived to lack objective and subjective conditions for improvement. Focus was put on (1) changing teachers’ roles; (2) reinforcing English teaching methodology training, and (3) creating a good environment to practice English. However, reform involved media teaching methods, and Western teaching methods and instruction in teachers’ roles, which was difficult to implement in rural areas where traditional teaching methods prevailed.


 Traditionally, grammar-translation was most commonly used in China. Learners learnt grammar using L1 (first language) focusing on sentence level and accuracy; almost without speaking practice (Harmer, 2015). The audio-lingual method was another prevailing approach, which employed stimulus-response and reinforcement models. It relied heavily on drill; aiming to cultivate good habits. To further the quality-oriented approach, teachers needed to receive training in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).


 Urban and rural


Gaps between urban and rural students’ achievements remained, because of different environment and social elements, for example, migrant influences and children’s personalities. Under consideration were shyness-sensitivity related to adjustment factors. A study of 411 rural migrant children, and 518 urban children with a median age of 10 (Chen et al., 2009), found urban school children’s shyness linked to social problems and depression. In rural areas, shyness was linked to indexes of adjustment; leadership problems; perceived teacher incompetence, and the inability of children from migrant workers’ families to achieve academically. Children experienced shyness, and perhaps stress, when adjusting to teachers' perception of their competence, which was an aspect of the quality-oriented approach that was new.



 Rural populations had been left far behind (Biao, 2006), compared to urbanites. Seeking to determine the constraining factors that prevented rural individuals from moving to urban areas, or how their rural situation constrained them from other local and contextual successes, it was found that mainly elderly, women and children, were most constrained, because of their reliance on others for security and safety. A key factor was the lack of provision for the public good; for example, sufficient education for the pursuing of employment opportunity/income. Moreover, rural schools lacked urban schools’ infrastructure and resources. Consequently, curricula improvement was less impactful. From 2001 through 2011 (Wang and Zhao, 2011), problems related to rural schools’ funding, and unstable and worsening levels of teaching resources, that is, a failure to implement quality education (CLT), and a need to integrate information technology (IT).


 If grandparents didn’t live with, or near, their grandchildren (Zeng and Xie, 2014), influence on the educational pursuits of children waned. Consequently, rural schooling was a socio-psychological pathway. Grandparents’ education directly influenced children’s minimum educational level attained. The positive influence from grandparents’ leverage was needed. Schooling had represented severe obstacles to the rural poor (Copland et al., 2013), who needed their children’s income. Improving curricula, infrastructure, and resources, was insufficient.


 Of ELT teachers in rural primary schools, there were those who were temporary, that is, part-time and unprofessional, and without qualifications, and those who were professional, and whose numbers were lower than required. Teaching suffered from a paucity of qualified deliverers, so the change to quality education was more difficult for rural areas. With regard to the employment of ELT teachers, there was the problem of funding; lack of resources, and failure to integrate IT. Professional ELTs faced students’ higher demands with regard to language proficiency, and that autonomy in classroom decision-making which CLT encourages. Moreover, both teachers and students in rural areas typically lack English practice out of class. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) wasn’t rigorously used, because teachers themselves lacked confidence (Dornyei and Ushioda, 2009) resulting in their appearing unable to engage with the material. Teachers found themselves teaching without training; especially in CLT.


 Approaches to teaching were mimetic and epistemic, that is, they only followed the text book. Activities and interactions with students weren’t created by teachers. In a study of eight primary school English teachers from the rural regions of Guangdong (Li and Siu, 2009), it was found that the English curriculum through entertaining activities and tasks with promising outcomes was sufficiently promoted, so demonstrating that a quality approach could rely on motivation. However, a general paucity of resources meant rural teaching remained dependent on textbooks, which didn’t focus the teaching through the teachers’ own transmissions, that is, interactions with students, so leading to the desirable goal of abandoning traditional memorization-based, teacher-centered and transmission-oriented approaches hampering students’ receiving quality education.


 China’s rural teachers’ role had been typically teacher-centered, because of a lack of training. Rote, memorization, and recitation were the core of teaching and assessment. Formal examinations represented a barrier to students’ development of communications’ skills, because of reticence (Pan and Block 2011) through fear associated with being examined. Consequently, student-centered learning was promoted, which meant spoon-feeding and chalk-talk methods were replaced by meaningful task-based teaching. Teachers’ controlling role gave way to that of a monitor and organizer’s.



 As with other Asian countries, China’s education system tended to invoke teaching methods based on memorization, that is, being able to answer specific pre-determined questions (Jin and Cortazzi, 2006), which qualified as characteristically ‘Chinese’ in terms of a learning approach. ELT in China had a ‘Chinese character’ and CLT wasn’t a part of its personality. Engaged with ‘Chinese characteristics’, teachers of English delivered learning approaches culturally acceptable to the Chinese, so increasing a sense of capability, which made teaching more comfortable. However, cultural acceptability retarded communication.


 Reform in China`s schooling led to an increase in the influence of the examination system, and a standardization that brought the level of achievement attained by rural and urban students closer together. Reform supported Chinese citizens’ functioning effectively in communicative English. However, lacks in local prioritization, that is, funding in the utilization of a wider range of more effective teaching tools, because of a paucity of knowledge with regard to the livelihood-relevance of English, proved debilitating. Although pragmatism did oppose the 'chalk talk'  method of rote memorization; so shifting the focus from teacher-centered to student-centered classrooms with a consequently greater emphasis on communication.




The success of class observations, which were used to provide clear information about the practical aspects of English language teaching, were largely dependent on the extent of teachers acceptance of reform, or whether the traditional way of teaching continued to prevail. Observations showed teachers` interactive implementation of new curricula’s influence upon students. However, in Hainan, ‘South of the Sea’, a province consisting of islands,  separated from Guangdong's Leizhou Peninsula by the Qiongzhou Strait, was the average number of students in each class, and similarly in Guangdong province where school populations were declining through migration. Many students moved to urban schools, for example, in the city of Haikou on Hainan Island in the province of Hainan, and to the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, because of parents’ work commitments. Moreover, as rural students speak dialect, they study Mandarin, that is, the official language of Imperial Chinese administrators, who were tested in rural areas, because agrarian regions are relatively low in terms of population, so micro-mistakes could be made and rectified on a scale large enough to demonstrate an administrator’s abilities, and without damaging macro-structures. Although curricula reform was implemented in urban schools a year earlier, rural schools didn’t represent an inferior posting.


 The main languages are dialect and Mandarin, and English was introduced as a third and foreign language. Dialect is the first language of most Chinese English language teacher participants, which resulted in inculcation of incorrect pronunciation in students. Learning the new language is mainly dependent on students' personalities; some students like to talk, and can speak better: some students never speak any English words. Personality can cause students to feel shy to talk, and the students’ English language skills can be another reason. Teachers don’t have to adapt, because rural students are shy. Not only because of their English language skills, but through environmental factors too. Urban primary students meet different people every day, but rural school students tend to have the same encounters. Consequently, they’ve difficulty in accepting the new, which includes English language practice.


 In rural primary schools, traditional teaching methods have predominated; for example, chalk-talk, a monologue presentation; spoken while the speaker/teacher works with the bored. To teach English language communicatively requires a wish on the part of the student to talk. In rural areas, students are shy. Few have high scores when tested, and most fail. Consequently, traditional teaching, which has produced shyness in students, needs to change. Although student-centered learning is useful in English language classes, rather than teacher-centered learning, because it gives students greater opportunities for practice, it’s considered more suitable for urban primary schools. Rural students, who aren’t brave enough to talk and answer questions, require direction, and textbook dialogues, which aim at students` imitating, are indicated as being facilitative.




Teachers are mainly influenced by examination systems. Despite the common usage of media, as required by new curricula, methods in China’s rural settings remain perforce traditional, that is, a conventional exam-goal test system, because of a lack of access to hardware. Showing vocabulary in the form of picture worksheets and textbook dialogues is usual; partly because teachers don’t have enough training workshops in the use of games and interactive media. However, ELTs were trained by the Chinese government in activity design; for example, game preparation, which is intrinsic to Communicative Language Teaching’s methodology of motivation.


 Hu’s research (2017) concluded education policy to be shaped by 5 factors; social, economic, educational, linguistic and political. China’s English policy aims to train urban and rural areas in the use of English in their lifetimes, rather than just sit an exam successfully. The system gave rural people an option to migrate to urban areas, and take up positions where speaking English was an asset. Formerly new vocabulary had been explained in Mandarin for rural students, and sometimes for challenging and important parts; for example, sentence structure, their own dialect. China’s introduction of CLT hoped to bypass that mediating role of Mandarin and dialect. Curriculum’s presentation of a lot more activities; such as dialogues relating to daily life, which students felt familiar with, meant enjoyment in learning. It made teachers feel more confident; for example, if there was an increased use of media facilities to give computer based tests (CBTs) and reveal answers.


 Although useful new activities involved the deployment of flash cards facilitating elicitation, CLT indicated that training teachers in Information Technology (IT) was a further technologically innovative means to assist in the motivation of students’ learning. IT mediated presentation activities were found to motivate students, and multimedia tasking. However, audio was generally used only for students to hear the sounds of vocabulary words from textbooks, that is, the audio-lingual or ‘Army method’ that, alongside grammar translation, prevailed as an approach amongst teachers employing stimulus response and reinforcement models, didn’t place any emphasis upon the CLT method of authentic language interaction using realistic, socially necessary language, as both means and goal in language learning. Making use of real life situations, the goal of CLT is to create communicative competence in learners.


 In rural areas, lack of support in the classroom environment caused students to appear retarded when compared with urban students’ language skills. Moving to urban schools, or Universities, rural students’ studies appeared to their minds more difficult. Achieving admittance to institutions of choice appeared less likely for rural students, because of examination results, which in their isolated regions might have seemed excellent to local administrations. Uncertainty over how to proceed with CLT meant that some teachers went back to relying on tests in assessment: preparing an examination paper was easier. Although teachers knew rural students needed more motivation and support, rather than develop strategies to change it, there was an attitude of acceptance, “There is a girl in my class whose cousin is studying at university, so I let her practice her English-speaking skills with her cousin and then come back to show me.” Rural school students can only know English language through their classes, and in supervised practice with English language teachers.


 Teachers’ setting of the examinations themselves is essential, because China’s curricula reform didn’t deal with specific facts or problems. The conversational style of the directives was reflected in the examinations, that is, subjectivity in teachers’ question setting reduced objective assessment of ability in favor of average comprehension. Instead of a gradient curve indicating achievement of use to a region, standard mean prevailed, so where the ambition of the educators had been excellence, normative was average.


 The aspect of conversational English within curricula reform had significant benefit in that teachers were required to implement Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) lesson plans. Despite limitations, teachers` resources, training and workshops, improved teaching methods and competence. Although teachers’ traditional methods didn’t measure up to the new standards and requirements, teachers who did interact with students didn’t motivate students enough. Fortunately, the pedagogical shift to CLT and CBT as a transmission model of language instruction, meant a utilization of less traditional approaches. Traditionally, the imparting of knowledge (Chen, 2014) followed the ‘Chinese characteristics’ of memorization and standardized testing. However, Chinese students adjust well to the CLT Western teaching style of transmitting language proficiency. Shifting from the typical chalk-talk ‘Eastern’ method of teaching to a more discussion-based subjective method, influenced young learner classrooms positively. The spread of English as a common language assisted people’s awareness of the need to master communication skills, rather than English knowledge. Pair and group work’s task-based language teaching (Zheng and Borg, 2014) furthered the communicative method. Effective multimedia prioritizes communication abilities over a rote memorization-based exam system (Hannafin et al., 2013), so furthering the student-centered classroom setting.


Teacher Training


 Because of the vastness of China, and its many small population groups, there are countless sub-cultures, which vary from city to city, and even village to village. Although there are numerous ways of teaching English, for example, the ‘Army method’ of grammar-translation, and task-based language teaching, the ideal for primary school students was an informal CLT multimedia method. Consequently, English language curriculum reform incorporated informal and flexible approaches to learning in the classroom. Unfortunately, shortfalls in funding, and incohesive infrastructures, which impacted upon students` access to learning tools (Zhang and Liu, 2013), were a diluting factor in terms of success in rural areas. However, single expatriate English teachers were often found in rural primary schools teaching every grade to compensate for shortcomings. Consequently, there is a sensible fear from authority, overseers, and outside observers or officials, over expressing insights or opinions that might impact negatively on teachers.




The future is government support to attain English language learning targets in decentralized schools in rural settings. A top-down approach dictating policy change needs to be complemented by a decentralized support. For rural communities, learning English had been considered a `lifestyle` choice, rather than aligned to future career opportunities, which new curricula reforms aimed to promote.




 China needs to focus on successful English language programs in rural as well as urban areas. Students lacked facilities; such as learning centers where they can learn and communicate: a significant barrier to be overcome.




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Uppity's Test

10/10/2018 11:40

Uppity’s Test


Time for the travelling Doctor, and his fabulously beautiful assistant, Cake, to invade more space and, perforce, use their boxed ears to listen to the coughin` of the sound boreders in the classroom. Practicing the art of the Shaman, stud`nts perceive their teacher as a type of She’sus, who hasn`t yet been crucified enough for them to enter into the Kondom of Heaven, `Teacher? May I torture you?` ELT`s joke is disseminated throughout all of the countries where the ELT professional is trying to cadge a drink off a leech, 'We made man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, blood clot), and then We made the alaqah into a mudgah (chewed substance) ...' Gran (6. 10 - 30 pm), Surah 23, Al Mu'minun (‘The Believers'), 12-14. Mosquitos are bloodsuckers that attach themselves to the flesh, and so the Muzzlem peoples of the Muddle East's nations of the `Slammer go to their Mosques to pray to become bigger leeches.


 Sojourning in the ‘settlement’ of Buttapes, Hungry, among ‘the Magyar’ in their own tongue (mudgah), where the Muzzlem Umpire of the Turkish Uttermoans once held sway (1541-1649), there are some Chews, and of course She’sus was a Chew; though spelt differently. The `Slammer's She’sus (Isa) wasn't crucified, but rather walked into heaven on Earth in a pair of the sandals that were brand-named after him. Obviously, in the modem age, the Glocks are watching to see if it’s still time, or can the teacher? From the snuff box to the snuff jar, as it were, as the human coffee beans get into their wheeled severals to go home from the skull grounds after class. In Pseudi Yarubeer, the Yarubeans go to the Mosque to pray for snow. In their 4WDs resembling toes, they’re ‘the must ski toes’, and there are lots of their brothers to give them one; if they’re stuck for what to do about the white stuff. In the skulls of Buttapes there aren’t any grounds for being sniffy, because tobacco is seriously frowned on by the skull administrators, who’re leery of associations between ‘snuff tobacco’, and recording live killings on video, which originally derived their filmed genre title from the snuff ‘caps’ deployed by those employed to walk about in the mornings dousing the flames from streetlamps, although the unexpected death of movie sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, who in 1962 was mysteriously found dead in the nude at the  height of her fame and notoriety, as the well-known extra-marital affair of US President, John F. Kennedy, caused pianist Elton John to write a song of pathos, ‘Candle In The Wind’ (1974), which suggested Monroe had become the victim of a ‘snuff movie’ leech lord: 'Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.’1 The method of quenching candlelight was adapted as a term for the killing of ‘lesser lights’ in the Hollywood, ‘Babylon’, starry firmament of heaven on Earth, that is, movie makers ‘snuffed’ their ‘old flames’ in B-movies. Much in the way that the US’ B1s and B2s snuffed ‘woman’s seed` in Crazy Golf Wars I and II. John, who wasn’t from Egypt, but rather Pinner, Middlesex, England, achieved renewed chart success after the English Princess, Diana, died, when her car crashed on August 31, 1997, in the Pont D'Alma tunnel, Paris, France, pursued by paparazzi motorcyclists getting off a few shots at her. Elton performed it as a lament:


'Never knowing who to cling to

When the rain set in.’



 The snuff box where Marilyn was found dead in 1962 was her bedroom, while in 1955 her contemporary, James Dean, had also died in a snuff tin, that is, his sports' car, ‘Little Bastard', a Porsche 550 Spyder, crashed before the release of the film, Giant (1956), in which he starred alongside English rose, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock 'Spider' Hudson in a story of adultery and oil money. Elvis Presley, 'King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, a euphemism for the woman on top, but most famous for his ELT ‘round’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ (1957), pulled a South African soldier out of a burning ‘tink’, during the period in which he was conscripted into the US army (March 24, 1958 - March 2, 1960), doubtless because he thought it could have been himself. Some, of course, were found dead in swimming pools; for example, the untimely death, in 1969 of guitarist Brian Jones of the rock band The Rolling Stones, suggested a pool of talent earmarked by the snuff movie making industry: 'I shouted out, “Who killed the Kennedy’s?” when after all, it was you and me.’2 ('Sympathy For The Devil’; 1968) Like animals for slaughter; after a brief shot in the limelight:


'Number forty-seven said to number three:

“You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see.

I sure would be delighted with your company,

Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me.”’3


 Prisons for straight guys, built by pederasts to give their children AIDS legally, are part of established thinking, which is why ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’4 is a term that makes a short sentence much longer. The terms 'snuff box' and ‘snuff tin' are adapted from the tobacco industry, for example the vampires of British American Tobacco (BAT), where ground tobacco is nasally ingested, that is, snorted, rather than smoked. Of course, tobacco in prison is called ‘snout’, which is the term for a pig’s nose, and smoking is a euphemism for killing, because guns smoke. Consequently, the smoker’s coughin’ is a metaphor among the pool of killers in the snuff movie makers' industry, who’re waiting to film and record their victims in the ‘snuff boxes’ and  ‘snuff tins’ of its rooms and cars.



 Coffee is ground, like tobacco, so it and the drug it contains, caffeine, are metaphorical coffin homonyms for the illegal snuff genre, which is why the smokers of cigarettes are called 'coffee nails'. As the straights seek to avoid the prisons, so those who’re wielding their short white sticks, pretending to be blind as to what’s really goin’ down, increase the volume of their coughin' until the degenerating hearts of their victims are made to understand, and the Brazilian bean growing mafiosa ensure that caffeine is accepted as a slave’s crutch, before the gates of the Pearly Konks open once more to admit the brain damaged and desperate at London’s Wormwood Scrubs.


 In Yarupric, the word مائي for the indispensably precious stuff of life that is water is, ‘Mayiy.’ It’s a homonym, `May ..?` As everyone is a slave to water, so the teacher is perceived not as a water bearer quenching the thirst for knowledge, but as a type of the figure of She’sus, who needs to be given vinegar, while he`s being crucified in the classroom in order to keep him awake; up on his feet during the torture of sleep deprivation: 'May I talk to you teacher?' Resurrected and filled full of vinegar by the summoning spell, the teacher’s tormented existence is prolonged yet one more sunset until another dawn: 'Eat and drink until the black line can be fully distinguished by you from the white line due to dawn's redness.’ Gran, Surah 2, Al Baqara ('The Cow'), 187.


 Most stud`nts play a game based on the 1968 film starting actor, Crushed Gopher Lee, as the undead vampire that lives by drinking the blood of his victims, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave: ‘Now my revenge is complete.’5 Coughin’ soundin' bored is the stud`nt equivalent of ‘water boarding', a practice familiar to Chechnyan veterans of the ‘Vlad’ Puttin` Crazy Golf War. Captured prisoners suffocated with wet towels until, coughin` up, they revealed what they`d been concealing from the inquisitors, before their corpses were black bagged, rather than shouldered aloft after having their years boxed.



 As the Western Crushteen paedophile teacher is a She’sus` surrogate, the sound boreders look to see if the Shrewish Messiah has heard that it’s time for him to emerge from their coughin`, so admitting that he lives in them and has come at least a second time after his first time ended on the cross. She’sus reputedly emerged transfigured from his tomb over 2000 years ago, which is why the Yarubs like to keep the doors of their classroom open. During the Rumun Umpire`s occupation of Chewish Palestine, She’sus was arrested as a `dissident` and taken to the hill of Calvary outside the city of Jerusalem. There he was nailed to a cross of wood and died; despite being given the usual vinegar to prolong his torture before the coughin' crowd.


 She’sus ‘Crushed’, `the chosen`, experienced Resurrection and Ascension to heaven, according to the Chewdik-Crushedeon religious tradition, and the Muddle Eastern peoples, like Muzzlems everywhere who, espousing their religious book of history and instruction, the Gran (6. 10-30 am), dictated by the angels to the Brafit M’mumhad (PBUH), according to `Slammeric tradition, believe that She’sus (Isa) walked into heaven and wasn`t crucified. Believing that Western Crushteen paedophiles are vampires emerging from their coffins, stud`nts sound bored religiously, while their religious instructors, the Muttawahs, smile indulgence:


`And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the dusty way to death. Out, out, brief candle! Life`s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.`6


 `Dubya` Bush might have said, `M`towers?` on 9/11, 2001, when the Muzzlem terrorists in support of an Independent Levant (IL), that is, a non-Chewish Palestine, hijacked civil airliners to crash into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York city, U.S.A., although the Republican elephant, Trump, might have said admiringly, after the WTC was rebuilt as a single erection, `M`tower.` Before the Muzzlem Caliphates, the last was the Sassanid (224-651 A.D.), named for the Persian Emperor, Sasan, which featured `towers of silence` to which the corpses of the dead were taken to be picked clean by birds. Consequently, the `birds` flown by Al Qaeda, `the base` terrorists, on September 11th, 2001, to crash into the WTC, were `towers of silence birds` flying in obedience to the Muttawahs of Afghanistan, where Pseudi Yarubeer`s Osama Ben Laden`s terrorist group operated under the auspices of the notoriously misogynist Taliban regime there. The Second Golf war resulted from the dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, evincing support for Al Qaeda, that is, the vampire `blood drinker` had risen, with the help of still Red Rusher’s ‘Vlad’ Puttin’. The US invaded Iraq in March, 2003, which led to the execution of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006, and his putative Iraqi successor Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi`s declaration of a 21st century Muzzlem Caliphate, consisting of rebels in the states of Iraq and Syria. The boarders of 9/11 were attempting to silence She’sus. Just as the Muzzlem sound boreders of the ELT classrooms sought to box the years of their teacher.


 Armies go abroad upon the Earth so they can slay free, because slavery is what their masters are for. It isn’t the role of the classroom teacher to explain to the children that the cars they see on the highroad, and the televisions they watch at home, are the equivalent of Hermann Hesse`s The Glass Bead Game (1943), where the aim is to escape from the paedophile who wants them to remain children so that they`ll be slaves: 'When the world is at peace, when all things are tranquil and all men obey their superiors in all their courses …'7 Escaping slavery by taxis to the Collage of Nobyu in Pseudi Yarubeer, it struck this Doctor travelling through space, and time with the glamorous Cake’s assistance, that the bumps constructed in the roads to slow traffic to a reasonable speed were designed by a ‘gamer’. The cars with their windows were the glassed in paedophiles’ beads, and they were ‘all strung out’. Like the heads of snakes on wheels, the noses of the mudgah in their mudjars were close to the grindstone in the snuff mill of the Moloch that psychotically devours its inferiors, that is, its children, under IISIS’ banner of a bone white moon on black, while fatuously proclaiming, ‘There is no God but God.’


 Driving his take in everyday, our International Driving License (IDL) wielder deposited us at the Nobyu Industrial Collage (NIC), where the good Doctor, and the pulchritudinous Cake, would spend a month or so attempting to understand why it was that the bigger fish at this locale had determined he shouldn’t be given a desktop computer, so that he'd have to use an abacus to compute the complicated formulas that magically materialized the grades of the stud`nts; subsequent of course to their taking of final examinations: or perhaps not. Who could tell? Worry the beads enough and the figures will improve. Inputting, of course, was different from computing, and had its own peculiarly inherent horrors, but meantime it was necessary to stare into the glass of the computer to conceive 100% of an exam as 56, and that the stud`nts` marks should then be divided by a quarter, before being multiplied by seven eighths; in order to arrive at a sum below 10 that translated into a quite startlingly large percentile and passing grade.


 Anthropological examinations of the web, a.k.a. the net, postulating that people were descended from spiders, suggested that the calculating Yarubs, looking to practice fly fishing, were luring Westerners abroad to consume them calculatingly as big fish, and much smaller fry as stocks diminished. Signs of speeders on the highways tended to support the hypothesis of Yarubeans in quest of more than just a passing acquisition of speederly knowledge, and the several varieties of variegated websites requiring different kinds of inputted logic supported the argument that the Crushteen paedophiles' teacher, She’sus, their ‘ Fisher of men’, was perceived as interfering with the `Slammer's internet, which was where they kept Drac', their leech lord, who could only be killed by decaffeination. Western teachers were made to live in compounds, because that`s what spies’ eyes were for:


'I sat upon the shore

Fishing, with the arid plane behind me.’8


 From an infidel`s point of view, She’sus ‘Crushed’ was poet T. S. Eliot`s `the Fisher King` of The Wasteland (1922), having gotten his calculations of surviving as a big fish in the net of the web awry. Correcting the calculating spiders with their guilt compounded Western eyes required a high degree of sounding bored skill on the part of the Muzzlems in the `Slammer, Cake had suggested to the good Doctor, during an Eat (feast) following the fasting month of Rubabum, which of course would result ultimately in the deaths of the run down calculators.


 The protagonist of Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, Knecht, at a skull for boys, appealed to the segregated society of Yarubs, where girls were severed from boys, each other, and themselves, according to Death Of A Princess (1980) type film reports of decapitated Yarubean royal, Misha’al.9 Going on a head with no trunk to speak of, ‘the long and winding road'10 from the Collage to the hotel at 6.40 am, and back again each day at 4.00 pm, was obviously a paedophile’s; his can representing what it is to have a necked ‘id’ adjusted to the modem age. Representing the farmed pupils of the Brafit M’mumhad Skull For Boys, it was marvy how the big fish gamer drove his take in. Riding roughshod over the bumps, death's speeders sought to give their fish heart attacks, which of course was why the harder taxis were paid for by those with higher stakes being driven in.


 Man may have invented the wheel, but the oil rich Yarubs had invented the riyal, which meant that they could employ better calculations. If the boot of the car represented the computing of life`s chances for survival, the trunk of the car asserted the lifelessness of its decaffeinated head, and the planes` speaking of 9/11 suggested that the slaved, with their wheeled noses to the grindstone of the snuff mill of Moloch, wouldn`t resurrect to ascend to heaven above to colonize the planets among the stars. With the fingers of its best and brightest glued to the keyboarding of the Giant Calculator In The Sky (GCITS), alerting Yarubean spiders to their struggles on the web, or the fishers of men to their presence in the keep net, depending on choice metaphor, the brains of the teachers of the West would die futilely keyboarded, and yet still unconverted to the `Slammer; despite all of the efforts of the adherents to the hadith, or ‘sayings’ of the Brafit M’mumhad. Required to pray, humans fall prey to the catch that is religion, whose computational program might baffle God herself. Worship, replaced by an international slaving terrorist mafia religiously forcing people to pray at the point of a gun, was `drawing a bead` on ELT professionals as a part of its game of class warfare.


 Nobyu Collage was proud to display the latest co-operational standard borne flagship of niceness everywhere from the Briti Council, the APTIS test, which had rapidly been reinterpreted as the Uppities test. As one of the few caffeine colored people on site, I could only observe that being read wouldn't cover my embarrassment at being asked by the administration to supervise the Uppities. Doubtless there'd be sniggering in the corridors of Whitehall among the slavers' establishment looking to establish slay free through the power of their armies and leggies upon the Earth once again. Yet for the ELT pro in hot far climes staggering beneath the yoke, and indeed the joke, it was but another nail in the boxed ears of the coffin in the classroom. As She’sus was nailed up to prevent his escaping the blood drinking vampires, who sought victims who’d forever accept that another's sickness should be theirs, and die accordingly in their stead, so the Shamanist victimizers remained eternally youthful, while their scapegoats eternally died and, while 'the `Slammer' means 'accept God', the Uppities were accused of not respectfully accepting their slavery.


 Shirts are obviously at a premium in the Muddle East: at least judging by the quantities lost. Shirt-lifting of course is one of the hazards of daily life most hotly denied by the `Slammericists, whose belief in the `Slammer closely approximates to that of the Chewdik-Crushedeon who believes in the heavenly city of Jerusalem, although for Muzzlems heaven is on Earth, and is the paradise of Jenna that the Muzzlem Isa (She’sus) walked into without experiencing crucifixion. Simply, to Muzzlems She’sus ‘Crushed’ was the devil being crucified by devil worshippers, because that's what devils like to do together, whereas for Muzzlem believers in the `Slammer, Isa (She’sus) wasn't crucified, because it wasn’t him, that is, Muzzlems weren’t crucified. If he had been, he'd almost certainly have had his shirt lifted by the thieves as well.


 Staying at the Funny Sean's hotel in Bahrain for three days en route to the Kondom of Pseudi Yarubeer to teach at the peculiarly titled, Fish Slab Collage, because of the fish market several miles away next to the apartment block where the Western teachers would be residing during their bodacious sojourning, it became an item of inestimable amusement to place my shirts in the local laundry only to be told that the mini-bus to Riyald would be leaving that night. Several hundred shirts were lost. If it weren’t for the lift, a bigger busser might have caught me.


 The Fish Slab Collage was a delight. Asked to make a slideshow with an appropriate ELT theme to introduce oneself to stiff members and ministrations, the good Doctor, and the delectable Cake, chose Premonition as the Hitchcockian title of what, in traditional Yarupric stylee, finally amounted to a movie devoid of movement. Staff, administrators and stud`nts were all alarmed at the prospect of failing to achieve the success demanded of them by the Collage Proctors with their cattle prods. Consequently, the 1 hr 37 min and 34 sec film of the slideshow ( ) began with a shark in the water, and the tense music of composer, John Williams (not the Grand Slam 70s Welsh rugby wing from Nantyffyllon), from the movie Jaws (1975), which precedes the biting off of the legs of the teenage swimmers in the sea by a great white. Presented as motivating, the audience were subjected to the finny principle in the form of a joke in which the teachers are described as having left a plane about to take off, because the stud`nts had built it, while a single teacher refuses to get off in the belief that, if the stud`nts built it, the engines won't work. Everyone needs to be pulling together, as it were, to escape the shark; coming: soon be there.



 Comes the voice of Martin Luther Kong Jnr's black activist speech for Civil Rights, during the height of protests against racism in the USA., on August 28, 1963, 'I have a dream that one day I will not be judged by my appearance, but on the content of my character!’ For the ELT crowd, I suspect being judged at all is thought of as an anathema revelatory of others' desire to imprison them in the `Slammer. Marilyn Monroe, sexy star of the film, Some Like It Hot (1959), is heard extolling the virtues of perseverance, 'Don't stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done.’ After the stake's driven in; presumably. Bill Gates of Microsoft has this advice for the bums on the spit, 'If you're born poor, it's not your mistake; but, if you die poor, it's your mistake.’ Miss Steak could only agree as chop stewed for the BBQ. The inventor of us as a light bulb, Thomas Edison (1847-1931), chips in, 'Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.’ Mohammed Dali, the k.o. specialist Spanish surrealist paint boxer of advanced years, and with his trademark handlebar moustache audibly bristling, delivers this stinging comment, ‘It's difficult to be humble when you're as great as I am.’ Basketballer, Michael Jordan, humbly concurs, 'I have failed many times in my life and that is why I succeed.’ It takes a big man to admit he's a coffee.



 Greg Thomson, who wrote First 100 Hours (2009), says what all stud`nts of ELT want to hear, 'The only normal way to begin speaking in a new language is to begin speaking badly.’ Judging by the stud`nts' response to that, Greg has a best seller on his hands. The vid' culminates in a rousing rendition of, 'How Many Rainbows Do You See?' After the subliminal United Colors of Benetton advertising ( my PayPal email address is ), it was back to the reality of language laboratories devoid of audio equipment and recordings, a handicap it was necessary to surmount in order to avoid drawing attention to the slavers’ lack of conscience. Accused by the stud`nts of finding inappropriate supplementary Borem Forum material online, so that they could complete pertinent exercises from Listening and Speaking 1 or 2, without the audio material that ought to have come with the book, but didn't, the good Doctor and his nubile assistant, Cake, hit on the expedient of downloading the needed mp3 audio files onto a flash drive before giving it to a trustee among the collagiates for distribution. Alas, flash drive, mp3s and trustee were never seen again by the ELT pro.


 Experience as Regional Director at the Zany Technical Collage in Riyald, saw 400 SAR spent on a color printer with bottles of ink, so to print pages from the stud`nts' course book, Douched One, because usage of modernity's technological miracles in ELT is so choked off as to resemble a petrol cap without a car. Travelling to the ZTC each day, it wasn't possible to open the vehicle from the inside. The occupants had to wait for the driver to get out and open it. Equally, if I closed the door of the RD's office, it couldn't be opened from the outside. I had to leap from the desk at a moment's notice, or admit the hoi polloi by leaving the door open permanently in case the spirit of She’sus rose from my coughin' and couldn't get off, while hoping the sarcophagus masquerading as office space wouldn't shut with me and them within, and no one able to open it from without. Going over to the ZTC 'phone shop next door, the sales' assistant said that the number handwritten by the border patrol guard on the entrance visa was inaccurate, so the sim card for the 'phone was an impossibility whether a heart attack was in the offing inside the office that couldn't be opened from the outside once I was securely ensconced in it, or not. However, there were no restrictions on the purchase of the ZTC modem, which left with me.


 Heart beating crazily with anxiety the dosh was handed over to the coercive extortionate. A few days later an iqama residence permit was received with heartfelt ennui on the strength of the passport stamp's number, and the heart began to beat more strongly. On the next visit to the larger more super heroic ZTC facility located in uptown Riyald, there was a purchasable sim card. However, the sales' assistant couldn't install it in the modem almost uselessly kept since the previous visit to the SAK, unless it was first cancelled, and I'd need to show my iqama. Displaying the permit that the previous ZTC assistant had said couldn't possibly have been gotten, because of an inaccurately numbered entrance visa, coffee ‘n’ Cake’s man whistled out onto the darkling thoroughfare with a sim, a modem, and still no hope of being able to use either in the event of the heart attack skryed as being planned by the jarred beans undulating in the heat as they wound their wheeled labyrinthine way from the skull grounds in search of percolation.


 Travelling 45 minutes by mini-bus to the Institute, and back to the accommodation each working day, meant that the 40 hour working week was augmented by a further week's travelling time. In other words, a five week month. Eyeing the bumps in the road, as the bus laboriously slowed to haul us over the coal’s tar broiling in the heat of the desert, the traffic appeared as a huge many headed bodiless snake on wheels. As one eye looked ahead, the other looked back, and the snake eyes of the monster failed to meet in the middle as, its eyes cross forever, it perversely undulated. The jailors had developed the mobile electric chair, together with an operator that helped to throw the switches that disabled its vehicle and itself. So it was that the disabled pedalers tread milled the failing hearts of the elocuted children of Moloch.


 In the 14th century, the Italian Rumun Al Coholic, Alighieri Dante, wrote The Divine Comedy of Paradiso, Purgatorio, and the Inferno that awaited the guilty of God's judgment, but it was the modem age that revealed how the serpent, Satan, looks. At the side of each bump in the road, built to accentuate the undulations of the decapitated snake's head on wheels, large stone pink colored balls emphasized the role of the cars in The Glass Bead Game of Misbahah, which is the name of the Muzzlem prayer beads strung as the 99 names of God. Used in a way similar to the Al Coholic rosary by the devoted prayerful, the glassed in occupants going in a head look to make it to the airport to escape the paedophile slavers of childhood; as adults who don’t believe in the fathers of devouring war.


1 John, Elton 'Candle In The Wind', Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, MCA, 1974.

2 Jagger, Mick, and Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, 'Sympathy For The Devil’, Beggars Banquet, Decca, 1968.

3 Leiber, Jerry, and Mike Stoller ‘Jailhouse Rock’, Elvis Presley, Jailhouse Rock, MGM, 1957.

4 `For the monarchy and the church of England`, .

5 Lee, Christopher as Dracula in Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Hammer, 1968.

6 Shakespeare, William Macbeth, 1606, V, v, l. 22-28.

7 Hesse, Hermann The Glass Bead Game (transl. Mervyn Savill), Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1943.

8 Eliot, T. S. The Wasteland, Part V, ‘What The Thunder Said', The Dial, 1922, l. 423-4.

9 Siregar, Parulian ‘The Love Story A Princess From Saudi Arabia That Must Ends With Beheading’, News, February 14, 2018, 11. 14 am, .

10 Lennon, John, and Paul McCartney 'The Long and Winding Road', Let It Be, Apple, 1970.

Listening Comprehension

23/08/2018 16:35

Listening Comprehension



Comprehensible input is the key to language acquisition (Krashen, 1982; Rost, 2001), and the listening comprehension is particularly important because L2 learners employ their listening abilities to make sense out of received input. Or, as Kurita (2012) puts it, listening comprehension is an L2 acquisition prerequisite. Therefore, many universities include listening comprehension in the teaching curricula. This has increased the significance of testing listening comprehension since tests can be used to make decisions about curricula (Carroll, 1968, cited in Bachman, 1990). A `high stakes proficiency summative test`, that is, an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) listening comprehension, was given at Rustaq College of Applied Sciences in Oman in 2007-08 to evaluate target objectives. IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. Students received individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an overall band score on a scale from one to nine. The students at Rustaq College of Applied Sciences in Oman were looking to achieve `Competent User` status at 6 band on the scale, which is defined in IELTS` material generally as defining someone who: `Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.` The students at Rustaq College, Oman, were trainee teachers at local primary schools, as a part of their practicum evaluation program as they became qualified English language teachers. Oman`s Ministry of Education required IELTS 6 as a minimum requirement for graduation.


 The test was a part of the final examination assessing reading, writing and speaking skills as well. It was Academic, that is for candidates who want to study at graduate or postgraduate levels, and for those seeking professional registration, rather than General, which is for candidates seeking to migrate to English speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, etc.), and for those wishing to train or study at below degree level although, in the listening component of the IELTS test, Academic and General don`t differ. IELTS` Listening test has four sections each with ten questions. The first section is a conversation between two speakers. The second section is a monologue. The final two sections are concerned with situations related to educational or training contexts. The third section is a conversation between up to four people and the fourth section is a monlogue. A variety of question types is used, including; multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, and short answer questions. Candidates hear the recording once only and answer the questions as they listen. The students have thirty minutes, plus ten minutes answer sheet `transference time`, to complete it. Learners were expected to be able to identify the main ideas, specific information, the speakers and the context of the passages. They were given six hour-long listening classes a week to practice. Hence, the test summated achievement in an assessment of what learners mastered from what had been taught and their attaining of the set course objectives. (Davies, 1990). It had a `scaffolding` element insofar as it prepared learners to master skills necessary to further their level.


 Buck (2001) describes listening comprehension as the result of an interactive cognitive process between `bottom-up` and `top-down` processing. In bottom-up processing, the listening input is dealt with in successive phases, starting with decoding into phonemes at the lowest phase, and ending up with semantic interpretation at the highest phase. In top-down processing, listening input is interpreted with reference to the listeners' pre-existing background knowledge (Harmer, 2001). This has implications for evaluating listening comprehension tests. One of these is the necessity for including items targeting both types of processing; for example, items that ask learners to infer the setting of the conversation, or the role of the participants, involves top-down processing, while items asking for the recognition of certain words requires bottom-up processing. Activating both types of processing pushes learners into interacting with input, which facilitates comprehension (Richards, 2008). The importance of pre-established background knowledge in processing received input is emphasised by schemata theory. Schema is `a theory of language processing which suggests that discourse is interpreted with reference to background knowledge of the listener` (Nunan, cited in Beatty, 2010, p 99). Accordingly, learners comprehend input better, when schemata that they own to is activated. In his study, Buck (2001) concluded that activating learners' schemata leads to better comprehension. Learners reported creating mental representations about passages coming from their background knowledge. Consequently, listening comprehension tests like IELTS` include passages supported by context; assisting learners to organise their knowledge and experiences of the theme before input is received. Buck (2001) argued that decontextualized passages `rob` the student of mental resources needed in the listening comprehension (p. 22). IELTS` way of contextualising listening passages in listening tests is to indicate the topic and give test-takers an opportunity to preview questions. This is `listening support`, according to researchers Chang and Read, 2006 (cited in Kurita, 2012), and is a strategy that, insofar as it provides helpful tools, is recommended for incorporation into test construction.


 At the beginning of the IELTS` listening test, the student hears instructions and a sample question. Then he or she reads section 1 questions, and listens to section 1 before answering the questions. This information is essential for activating learners' linguistic and world-knowledge schemata about the topic and the text type. It involves learners in a process of hypothesis generation by making predictions about the input and then testing their hypotheses against their predictions when listening. This process is the core of comprehension (Buck, 2001). Many studies have confirmed the positive effects of previewing questions on testing listening (Chang and Read, 2006). The importance of this `listening support` is in providing learners with a purpose for listening, and answering. It directs them towards selecting relevant parts of the input to complete the task. The test`s structure guides learners to approach the tasks using top-down processing, which helps compensate for deficiencies in linguistic ability. IELTS` Listening test section 1 is a conversation between two people, set in an everyday context (e.g., a conversation in an accommodation agency). Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g., a speech about local families); section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g., a University tutor and student discussing an assignment), and section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g., a University lecture). Students listen to the four sections and write their answers to a comprehension based on what they hear. The answers are then transferred to an answer sheet if the students didn`t use the answer sheet from the start.


 Fulcher and Davidson (2007, cited in Anckar, 2011) highlight validity as the key to the construction and evaluation of tests, that is, the extent to which the test measures the achieving of intended objectives. (Bachman and Palmer, 1996) It can be evaluated through examining target objectives and actual objectives achieved as demonstrated by the students` test results. Learners may be asked to sequence actions/events, and so they need to recognize `signposts` establishing the sequence. Listening for specific information is equivalent to the capacity to distinguish between true or false. In IELTS multiple choice items can consist of a stem and alternatives. Learners have to identify the alternative that is not given: a distracter (see Appendix). The ability to disregard irrelevant information must be present in the student. Identifying the main idea of the audio is essential. The validity of the test depends on the usefulness of the objective. In IELTS 6 the objective is for the students to demonstrate `some knowledge of complex sentences`, which the test validates. Questions' order should match with information's sequence, Buck (2001) suggests. Bias can occur if some test-takers are advantaged by enabling them to complete the tasks depending on their background knowledge, rather than listening comprehension (Anckar, 2011), but it would be foolish to criticize those thirsty for knowledge, who quench that thirst, and so gain an advantage because they`ve improved their schemata.


 Examined in tests, reliability (Linne and Miller, 2005, cited in Anckar, 2011) is measurable consistency (Hughes, 1989) achieved through rigorous invigilation (Bachman, 1990) minimizing opportunities for cheating followed by moderation sessions in which precise marking rubrics are adhered to; to decrease inconsistencies between markers (Bachman, 1990). Although IELTS uses them, true-false questions aren`t universally thought appropriate for testing listening, because test-takers find it difficult to extract what is not said in the listening (false statements) due to the lack of a reference text to use for checking. Employing a variety of task types is useful in reducing limitation, for example, sentence-completion. The problem of speculation in T/F items can be solved by inserting NG (Not Given) as a third option, which is to be found in IELTS` testing. Consequently, learners should have sufficient practice in this.


 In conclusion, the IELTS` Listening comprehension evaluated in terms of the extent to which it is validated and reliable, shows that the test's items reflect adequately upon the target objectives. The test equips learners with `listening support` to facilitate comprehension. However, `backwash`, that is, results subsequent to analysis, indicate that the test could be improved through more rigorous invigilation and moderation to ensure its consistent validity and reliability throughout all of the countries where IELTS testing is given.




Achman, L. F. (1990) Fundamental Considerations In Language Testing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anckar, J. (2001) Assessing Foreign Language Listening Comprehension By Means Of The Multiple-Choice Format: Process And Product. FInland: University Of Jyvaskyla.

Bachman, L. F. (1990) Fundamental Considerations In Language Testing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bachman, L. F., and A. S. Palmer (1996) Language Testing In Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Beatty, K. (2010) Teaching And Researching Language Learning. 2nd Ed. London: Pearson Education Limited.

Buck, G. (2001) Assessing Listening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, A. (1990) Principles of Language Testing. Great Britain: T.J Press.

Harmer, J. (2001) The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3rd Ed. London: Longman.

Hughes, A. (1989) Testing for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krashen, S. (1982) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. [Online]. United Kingdom: Pergamon Press Inc.

Kurita, T. (2012) Issues In Second Language Listening Comprehension And The Pedagogical Implications: Accents Asia, pp. 30-44.

Richards, J. C., (2008) Teaching And Speaking: From Theory To Practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rost, M. (2001) Teaching and Researching Listening. London: Longman.

Sultan Qaboos University (2013) Foundation Programme English Language, Muscat: Language Centre.




Changing the answer twice.


Peter decides to go to the cinema.


PETER: Let’s go to the cinema, there’s a new film on.
JANE: I’d like to go to the theatre instead to see the play.
PETER: OK, that’s fine, we’ll go to the theatre.
JANE: Great, thanks, oh no – maybe the cinema would be better.
PETER: OK – the cinema it is then
JANE: Are you sure?
PETER: Yes, sure. No, the theatre – definitely!

Answer: False

A Select Review of Some Popular ELT Coursebooks

23/08/2018 15:22


A Select Review of Some Popular ELT Coursebooks





With the development of English as an international language and the increase of migration, and multicultural societies, knowledge of intercultural norms and rules of appropriateness is essential in achieving effective communication. Textbook evaluation assesses how well course books put this theory into practice. Studying more complicated aspects of language, intermediate level students focus on functional, or communicative competence, and so students` success is dependent on books` fulfillment of these criteria. Nguyen’s (2011) evaluation of Vietnamese EFL textbooks, and Wong’s evaluation (2002) of 1990s textbooks employed conversation analysis (Bowles 2006), or authenticity of conversations (Wong 2002;Boxer 1993), while Eleni Petraki`s (Petraki and Bayes, 2013) evaluation of the course books Intermediate Matters (Bell & Gower 1991), Language in Use (Doff & Jones 1994), Landmark (Haines & Stewart 2000), New Headway (Soars & Soars 2009), and New Cutting Edge (New Cutting Edge) (Cunningham & Moor 2005), observed that conversation was request based, so successful course books inculcate the ability to negotiate as a basic five point criteria; to raise students’ cross-cultural awareness of requests; to expose students to different request forms - direct, conventionally indirect, and non-conventional indirect; to adequately explore the contextual factors that affect the degree of politeness; to emphasize second pair parts, that is, preferred and rejecting responses; and to expose students to multi-turn request forms, that is, pre-sequences and re- requests.


 The success of the lesson depends on these criteria being met by the course books. Quantitative analysis counts the number of request based tasks; for example, in Intermediate Matters from 9 types of request forms (direct and indirect), 5 are interactional in context, and 4 transactional, which an evaluator would perceive as `balanced`. In Eleni Petraki's (Petraki and Bayes, 2013) quantitative study, textbooks were found not to attend to contextual factors affecting the way requests are formulated, so there`s a lack of attention to rejecting responses, which is detrimental to authentic communication. In short, quantitative analysis is sufficient to make that deduction, whereas qualitative analysis is the perception that, although quantitative analysis suggests 5 interactional and 4 transactional request forms in task based exercises within Intermediate Matters is `balanced`, qualitatively that`s not established until students` results are examined.




 Criteria for evaluation is politeness derived, and relates to speech act theory (SAT); `speaking a language is performing speech acts, such as making statements, giving commands, asking questions, making promises, and so on` (Searle 1969: 16): as well as conversation analysis. Cultural appropriateness with regard to requests, request relationships, and other contextual factors explaining pre-sequences, and re-requests, are what course books need with regard to negotiative skills in order to provide adequate practice activities and lessons.


 Discourse analysis (DA), that is, analysis of written, vocal, sign language, and indeed any significant semiotic event, which helps to express the socio-psychological characteristics of individuals, is important in assisting learners in formulating speech acts to achieve successful real life communication (Bardovi-Harlig and Mahan-Taylor 2003; Kasper 1997; Nguyen 2011). Textbooks are inadequate insofar as they fail to present sufficient pragmatic information, and lack authentic dialogues resembling naturally occurring conversations (Bardovi-Harlig 2001;Boxer 1993; Bowles 2006; Nguyen 2011; Wong 2002). The pressure on teachers to improve their lessons on requests by using pragmatics research, and authentic examples as a guide, is doubtless incommensurate with the capacity of ordinary humanity. Nevertheless, the speech act of requests aim to get the hearer to do something for the speaker. Consequently, the teacher is beholden to employees and students alike; if they accept remuneration for employment.




 Only Intermediate Matters and New Cutting Edge explicitly instruct students to think about polite requests in their L1, although it`s important students recognize differences between requests in their L1 and the target language. The lack of cross-cultural awareness activities in Language in UseLandmark and New Headway is disadvantageous, because comparisons are useful in alerting non-native speakers (NNS) to impolite pragmatic transfer, and can help them avoid miscommunication (Cohen 1998; Blum-Kulka 1989; Nguyen 2011). With regard to direct request forms, Language in Use omits examples of direct requests, which can be formed differently, depending on whether the request is direct or indirect, and whether following conventional, or non-conventional patterns. Consequently, students using Language in Use may transfer the directness of their L1 to the target speech act, and can unintentionally be impolitely direct when requesting. Landmark and New Headway present a single example each of a direct request form, and in transactional contexts, which is unbalanced. Landmark`s is a conductor`s: `Tickets please` (Landmark 2000a: 143). In the activity, this direct request is not identified as such, so students may not notice how closely related orders and direct requests are, which may cause pragmatic transfer (impoliteness). New Headway`s is part of an exercise where students have to use correct intonation when matching a request with an answer, `Two large cokes, please.` (New Headway 2009:a 37) In both Landmark and New Headway, the lesson is incomplete, because they lack information about pragmatic transfer. In Intermediate Matters there are four examples of direct requests. The first two are identified as the least polite among six. The third is from a listening exercise, `I want to try on that black pair` (Intermediate Matters 1991: 81), which is an instance of a direct request form identified as `rude`, because of form and intonation. Intermediate Matters then has a fourth direct request, `Put the kettle on, please.` (politely) (Intermediate Matters 1991: 82), where tone is used to indicate degree of politeness. Using its examples, Intermediate Matters draws a connection between direct request forms, intonation and politeness, and identifies the direct request as a form that should be avoided unless the appropriate intonation and `please` is used.


 New Cutting Edge exemplifies direct requests as objectionable. Students receive dialogues, which are too direct, and should be more indirect. They`re instructed to, `Rewrite the dialogues to make them sound polite` (New Cutting Edge 2005: 73) However, New Cutting Edge doesn`t help students understand that elements of the request form, intonation and politeness, are interconnected to avoid impoliteness through pragmatic transfer. The commonest request form is the conventionally indirect (Blum-Kulka & House 1989). Course books present varieties, `Could/Can you ...?`, `Would you mind (if I) …?`, `I was wondering if you/I could ...?` and `Do you think you/I could (possibly) ...?` However, only Intermediate MattersLanguage in UseNew Headway and New Cutting Edge address differences in formality or politeness between conventionally indirect requests, which is only included in student activities from the teacher’s book, or supplementary grammar at the back of the students’ book. New Cutting Edge even tells teachers to tell students that `Would you be so kind as to...?` and `Do you think you could possibly...?` `are not used very often ... students may sound sarcastic or ridiculous to native speakers if they use them inappropriately` (New Cutting Edge 2005: 56). Landmark has no information about which conventionally indirect request forms are more polite or formal, which may result in students using overly polite, or formal conventionally indirect requests, which are inappropriate for the situation. The non-conventional hint is the most indirect and difficult request form (Weizman 1989). Only New Headway met the criterion of exposing students to a non-conventional indirect request form, which is but mentioned in the listening activity without special attention, A: `I don’t know what’s gone wrong with my computer. The screen is frozen again.` B: `I’ll try and fix it if you like. I’m quite good with computers.` (New Headway 2009a: 123). The absence of hints is troubling as they`re common with native speakers (NS), but present problems for NNS (Weizman 1989).


 Discourse Analysis (DA) shows contextual factors affecting the degree of politeness of a request. Nguyen argues that `learning speech acts without opportunities to uncover relevant contextual information, and differential operations of politeness in different cultures, would cause L2 learners considerable difficulty adjusting themselves to unpredictable intercultural interactions` (2011: 23). Only Intermediate Matters directly addresses the level of imposition of a request. In the students’ book, `when we think a request is difficult, unusual or inconvenient, it is often better to sound less confident and use a polite form` (Intermediate Matters 1991: 81). The inclusion of mitigating features by Intermediate Matters may result in students able to effectively acknowledge the degree of imposition. Language in Use and New Cutting Edge have notes in the teachers’ books instructing teachers to alert students to the connection between degree of formality and level of imposition. It`s `casual` when `the speaker is asking for something that is quite unimportant, and which is easy for the other person to do`, but `careful` if it`s `felt we were asking something difficult` (Language in Use 1994b: 32). Consequently, the teacher may convey how the level of imposition affects the degree of politeness in request form. Landmark and New Headway don`t address degree of imposition and affect on politeness. Requests involving a larger imposition deserve mitigation, and students may be reluctant to request that which involves larger impositions, because they can`t properly mitigate.


 A factor in the politeness of a request is transactional or interactional context. Transactional involves institutions, `transmission of information or the exchange of goods and services`. Interactional is language chosen to `shape and maintain social relations and identities` (Brown & Yule 1983: 2). Intermediate MattersLanguage in Use and New Headway present a balance. Positive and negative politeness strategies are clear determinants of request efficiency and are dependent on the context of the request (Brown & Levinson 1987). The course books don`t specifically address `positive and negative face`, but the inclusion of conventionally indirect request forms means students have requesting strategies that attend to `negative face`, even if they are not explicitly aware of `face issues`. LandmarkNew Headway and Language in Use neglect the issues of `relationship and face`, while New Cutting Edge and Intermediate Matters have left it entirely to the teacher, `Asking for money is potentially quite embarrassing even between friends, so this very polite language is appropriate` (New Cutting Edge 2005: 56).  


 Gumperz’s work (1997) demonstrates that even a slight deviation in intonation can threaten the face and relationship between participants by its perceived lack of politeness. Language in Use completely fails to note the importance of intonation on the degree of politeness. Intermediate Matters addresses intonation, and presents polite, impolite and sarcastic intonation. Students are encouraged to express impoliteness, irritation, and nervousness in `roleplay`. By knowing not-polite intonation, they avoid conveying the wrong message when requesting. Landmark has a mini-lesson where students listen to a recording of polite intonation and where `request can sound like an order` (Landmark 2000a: 151). New Cutting Edge`s mini-lesson presents four examples of requests, but three end with `please`, which isn`t variety enough. With adjacency pairs, the second pair part may be a preferred or rejecting response. The course books don`t present the form and delivery of second pair parts, which is deleterious to students’ competence and confidence.


 The course books present the preferred response to a request in the form of agreeing or complying with the action requested, which mostly require only `yes`. However, the conventionally indirect form, `Would/Do you mind (if I)…?` requires explanation, that is, `no` indicates compliance, `No, I don’t mind if you…` In Intermediate Matters and New Headway responses are inadequate, `Would you mind…?` is answered with `I’ll try, sir, but …`, (Intermediate Matters 1991: 81) which is ambiguous. Language in Use does not show a response to this request form at all. In New Headway, limited possibilities for negative and positive responses are attended to at the back of the book, `Sure/of course/Well, I’m afraid I’m a little busy right now/Well, I’m a little cold actually` (New Headway a 2009: 138) Landmark and New Cutting Edge clearly show the preferred responses, `Not at all` (Landmark, 2000a: 143), and New Cutting Edge, `Of course not!` (New Cutting Edge 2005: 167). Because of the `face-threatening` nature of rejecting responses, examples could be expected on mitigation and delivery of the second pair part. However, this issue is not covered. Intermediate Matters shows the importance of rejecting responses, `when we can’t agree to a request it is often polite to apologize and give a reason, make an excuse or give some helpful advice`, thus providing a `face-repairing strategy` with which to mitigate the rejection (Intermediate Matters 1991: 81). Language in Use emphasizes the second pair part by clearly outlining the possible responses, and illustrating how refusal is overcome with re-requesting. However, Language in Use provides only a single example of a refusal and does not explain how a refusal is formed, mitigated or delivered while still maintaining an appropriate level of politeness.


 Landmark presents only two examples of refusals without any explanation about the differences between preferred and rejecting responses, but does elicit possible second pair parts by asking students to list the positive and negative request responses they already know. New Cutting Edge presents several examples of mitigated refusals and second pair parts, ` by asking in the listening activity if `the other person [says] yes or no to the request?` (New Cutting Edge 2005: 72).  Students listen and record the reasons given for refusing the requests, which helps.


 Multi-turn requests, such as pre-sequences and re-requests, are commonly used by NS and are therefore useful for NNS to know. Pre-sequences are subtle devices that may achieve a desired action, while avoiding going on-record with a request, although re-requests are usually more direct than the original request form, so useful. New Cutting Edge and Intermediate Matters didn`t include any examples of either pre-sequences or multi-turn request forms, while Language in Use didn`t have any pre-sequence examples. Landmark contains one example of re-request, which isn`t expanded, `Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you [pre-sequence New Cutting Edge] but could you possibly get my case down for me? [request]` (Landmark 2000a: 143). It`s useful if the teacher needs to show how to predict the fulfillment of a request following from pre-sequence. Language in Use illustrates the possible responses to a request. If the hearer responds with a refusal, the speaker may choose to either abandon the request or try to persuade the hearer with a re-request. Although the teacher is told to act out the possibilities, there`s no opportunity for guided practice, where students practice the form themselves, or the context in which they are used. Landmark and New Headway each present an example of a re-request in the listening activities, `Can you change the date on it? [request]`, then re-requests `Well, can’t you just turn a blind eye? [re-request]` (Landmark 2000a: 143). The elderly woman doesn`t want to pay for a new ticket, and the conductor refuses both the original request, and the more direct re-request. Both Landmark and New Headway present some examples of re-requests in the listening tasks, a refusal and a compliance. However, both Landmark and New Headway omit any explanation of when to make a re-request, and how direct it should be. As a result, students may feel uncomfortable re-requesting.


 Employing politeness, conversation analysis and speech act theory, doesn`t indicate a lesson will be successful, but assists analysis and evaluation. Quantitative analysis shows adequate examples of all types of requests are needed for demonstrating differences in requests as influenced by face, imposition, transactional and international context. Qualitative analysis confirms that adequate explanations or ample opportunities for practice are needed. Otherwise miscommunication, cultural shock, and a lack of confidence in interacting with other English speakers results. Boxer (1993) argues that the lack deprives students` engagement in everyday interactions, maintaining friendships, and further enhancing their ESL/EFL skills.




 Course books are inadequate when compared to authentic NS interactions (Bowles 2006: 355; Wong 2002; Nguyen 2011). Reliance on inauthentic materials results in reinforcing student error, which results in discomfort with NS (Wong 2002: 54). An important implication for ESL, because lesson effectiveness that depends on teachers’ expertise and willingness to draw on other resources to teach pragmatic competence presupposes a need to develop skills in selecting, adapting, designing and supplementing material. Student teachers ought therefore to be involved in textbook evaluation and materials design. Teachers should be made aware of the textbooks’ limitations and develop skills in expanding the material and offering further explanations and more authentic material. The teacher’s role demands dynamic adaptivity (Graves 2008). Although teachers need to be trained in the development and design of materials appropriate for students, course book designers need to work more collaboratively with researchers in refining and updating current ESL/EFL course books. In order to improve the authenticity of textbook dialogues and students’ pragmatic and strategic competence, different request forms, such as hints, favors, or direct requests, should be better exemplified and explained. Additionally, students’ awareness of cross-cultural differences between requests in their L1 and the L2 should be raised, and the different factors that affect politeness should be explored. Furthermore, students should be exposed to a variety of authentic examples of requests in multi-turn conversations to understand the context in which pre-sequences and re-requests are made. Given the global adoption of the English language as a lingua franca, there`s need to develop intercultural communicative competence, so material designers and teachers need to present students with opportunities for reflection and discussion of speech acts and the implications of language use in different cultures. Course books should expand and improve their lessons on the second pair parts of requests; especially with regard to rejecting responses and inclusion of mitigating factors common in refusals: such as the apology-reason-excuse-advice IM gives. IM`s teaching students how to identify a potential obstacle in a request as a reason for refusal will allow them to feel more comfortable about delivering rejecting responses that are polite (Paulson & Roloff 1997). IM, Intermediate Matters, meets more criteria and so is evaluated more highly, but is the oldest of the course books reviewed, which could indicate a diminishing in the aim to teach, and an increase in the business of publishing`s aim to streamline and standardize, but where such means limitation for educator and student.




 The influential Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP) examined requests and apologies (Blum-Kulka, House & Kasper 1989) showing cross cultural variation in directness/indirectness. Australian is the least direct, with more than 80% of requests being indirect (Blum-Kulka & House 1989). Requests in America depend on social distance and contextual situational factors. Requests between family and friends are more direct than those between strangers (Blum-Kulka & House 1989). There`s evidence of too pragmatic a transfer from the first language (L1) of NNS when performing the speech act of a request in the target language (L2) (Cohen 1998). Research by Economidou-Kogetsidis (2005) into telephoning found pragmatic transfer of requests from a NNS’s L1 to English resulted in perceived impoliteness. Moreover, favor asking puts the speaker in debt to the hearer, that is, to be repaid at a future date, and also entails some action from the hearer that is `outside usual routine` (Goldschmidt 1998: 131). Entwined with power, imposition and relationship, it`s difficult for an NNS to understand and use (Goldschmidt 1998).


 To what extent authentic requests are reflected in ESL intermediate level course books determines whether or not students become capable of authentic dialogue. Cross cultural information about types of requests, and their dependence on context, is an implication for language teachers; materials designers, and teacher trainers. DA on spoken interactions between native speakers (NS) and non-native speakers (NNS) reveals a prevalence of direct and indirect speech acts (Searle 1969: 16). Direct acts are imperative, `Give me that pen`, whereas indirect is, `Could I have that pen, please?` A common non-conventional indirect request form is difficult for ESL learners, that is, a hint, (Weizman 1989), for example, `it’s cold in here` or `I love chocolate`. Related to politeness theory (Brown and Levinson, 1987), direct requests threaten the speaker’s ‘face’ (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain 1984: 201). There`s negative face for privacy, and positive face for public self-image (Harris 2003). Mitigation is needed to form a polite request designed to `save face`; and it`s also needed in refusing (Blum-Kulka et al. 1989), which is where hints are invaluable.


 Indirect strategies aren`t polite (Yu 2011). An important feature is intonation. Bartels (1999) states intonation is a device used to fine-tune politeness strategy. If intonation is non-conventional, the hearer may perceive the speaker as impolite. With NS conventionalized indirect requests are `so common that it is rare to hear a completely direct request even between equals` (Brown & Levinson 1987: 248) resulting from the egalitarian nature of Western societies and communication styles. Consequently, NNS` reliance upon grammar can sound stilted. The word `please` covers a multitude of discourse errors associated solely with requests (Brown & Levinson 1987; House 1989; Wichmann 2004; Sato 2008).


 Conversation Analysis (CA) is about how requests are developed and negotiated between participants depending on the co-text (Goodwin & Heritage 1990). The request is the first pair part, whereas the response is the second pair part. CA focuses on the mitigating actions NS take when complying or rejecting. CA suggests a compliant second pair part is preferred response, while a refusal is mitigated (Goodwin & Heritage 1990), which is useful for NNS` appropriate response. Requests are often preceded by pre-sequence, for example, `Do you have a car?` This allows abortion. `No, I don’t` illustrates `request futility` (Goodwin & Heritage 1990) and preserves face without rejection. Some pre-sequencing is so conventionalized it serves as the request speech act, for example, `Have you got a match?` (Goodwin & Heritage 1990). According to Bowles (2006) NS use pre-sequences in telephoning much more than NNS. Pre-sequences are multi-turn, that is, they can be used to re-request, or second pair part expand; formulated to repair the original request: if a rejection is received (Liddicoat 2007). According to Kim, Shin & Cai (1998) NS use more direct forms in the re-request, which confounds NNS who tend to be indirect when issuing face threatening acts. Such multi-turn requests need to be attended to by course books. The word `please` (Sato, 2008) can indicate a directive act, that is, a demand, or an appeal, as well as a simple request, for example, `Can I have the butter, please?` That can confuse.




 As intermediate level students focus on functional, or communicative competence, so students` success is dependent on books` fulfillment of these criteria. Conversation is request based, so successful course books inculcate the ability to negotiate as basic. A successful course book has to raise students’ cross-cultural awareness of requests, and expose students to different request forms, that is, direct, conventionally indirect and non-conventional indirect forms. The successful course book must adequately explore the contextual factors that affect the degree of politeness, so emphasizing second pair parts, that is, preferred and rejecting responses, while exposing students to multi-turn request forms; pre-sequences and re- requests. Quantitative studies demonstrate that textbooks don`t attend to contextual factors affecting the way requests are formulated, so there`s a lack of attention to rejecting responses detrimental to authentic communication, while qualitatively that`s not established until students` results are examined; when it`s too late.


 Cultural appropriateness with regard to polite requests, request relationships, and other contextual factors explaining pre-sequences, and re-requests, are what course books need. Discourse analysis (DA) can help in providing naturally appropriate examples of dialogue. Of the course books reviewed, only Intermediate Matters and New Cutting Edge explicitly instructed students to think about polite requests. The course books didn`t specifically address `positive and negative face`, but the inclusion of conventionally indirect request forms meant students had requesting strategies that professed to be attending to the problem of incurring `negative face` during interactions; even if students weren`t made explicitly aware of `face issues`: so there remained the possibility of a higher embarrassment factor attending interactions. Because of the `face-threatening` nature of rejecting responses, examples could be expected on mitigation, and the absence of coverage for this issue in the course books reviewed might have caused non-native speakers to cause inadvertent offence. Research by Economidou-Kogetsidis (2005) into telephoning found pragmatic transfer of requests from a NNS’s L1 to English resulted in perceived impoliteness, which might result in injurious `face-to-face` interaction. This indicates that ELT course books need to address the issue of request-politness for their students` success in cross-cultural interactivity.




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