Apostrophe Protection Society closes down

The Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) has been forced to shut down, due to an alleged lack of interest in the subject.  Listen to the  news report below to find out more:

You can read the transcript here

You can also read this article, or have a look at some ‘apostrophe catastrophes’.

This is no trifling matter. For example,  should it be King’s Cross or Kings Cross? On the tube map, it says ‘King’s Cross’, but on the National Rail website, it does refer to the station as ‘Kings Cross’, which illustrates the insecurities in the use of the apostrophe over the centuries.

Some time ago, a grammar vigilante was claimed to roam the streets of Bristol late at night correcting bad punctuation on Bristol shop fronts.

With all this in mind, you could think of possible speaking points:

  • Can you see the APS and this grammar vigilante’s points? What’s your take on their actions?
  • Is English spelling and punctuation being neglected? If so, what may be some possible causes?
  • Would English benefit from having an ‘Academy of the English Language’, just like Spanish or French have?
  • Should written  language adopt more similar conventions to spoken language?

Follow-up to the story (Dec 9th 2019): Renewed interest in apostrophes after society closed down

signposting language for essays

One of the most relevant aspects of the structure of an essay is signposting: giving clear indications about the content of your essay not just in the introduction, but in every section. Imagine you were giving indications to a driver to prevent them from getting lost: that is the function of signposting language. That way, your essay will be much easier to read, much clearer. Here you have a more detailed explanation.

IMG_4787

street signpost in Eton, Berkshire (England) [my own photograph]

You can find below some possible expressions you can use to that effect:

 

Screenshot 2019-11-30 at 18.17.28

Click on the image to download the file

You can also have a look at these links, especially the first one, a very thorough guide to academic writing:

As an exercise, you can read these two sample essays (argumentative and discursive).

Screenshot 2019-12-02 at 22.28.51

Can you highlight….?

  • any signposting language you can find.
  • the linking words you can find to join paragraphs and to join sentences within paragraphs.
  • WOW language (grammar and vocabulary which stand out as really good).
  • any other positive aspects that may call your attention. 

You can find below the same essays with some of these aspects highlighted:

Related posts:

 

Black Friday and consumerism- resources

You can find below a collection of resources which can be used when dealing with Black Friday and consumerism:

  • Black Friday-US commercial:

  • Black Friday (BBC news):

Binge shopping:

How to differentiate deals from duds on Black Friday (B2):

Black Friday- consumer expert:

Black Friday online shopping and fraud: https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/black-friday-online-shopping-and-fraud/

Money- resources

You can find below a series of resources which can be used if you need to deal with the topic of money and finances:

Debit card ad:

Money and consumerism- Spotify playlist

Word cloud with idioms from songs:

Edpuzzle quiz– clip captioned in English, questions and comments aimed at working on the vocabulary of money. (C1)

Winning the lottery:

Transcript 

  • Cashless societies:
  • Pensioners splashing out vs cash-strapped millennials:

transcript

      • Facebook cryptocurrency launched:
      • Have you/Would you invest in bitcoins? Why? -Watch these clips from The Big Bang Theory (The Bitcoin Entanglement)

Finances:

Model declared bankrupt:

Transcript

Sex and the City- Ring a Ding Ding (the protagonist finds herself broke after years of splashing out on, among other luxuries, shoes)

Crime and money:

  • Cybercrime and fraud:
  • Measures to prevent fraud:
  • Using a dead woman’s card (B2):

template to give feedback to students’ spoken production

For some years now, whenever my students were speaking in pairs or groups, I would write down comments I would like to make on my iPad: I would go round, monitoring their conversations, and I would jot down ideas as they came up. These would typically include a mixture of grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation mistakes, or simply alternatives I could provide to what they were saying. I would also add further ideas that occurred to me while listening to them. Then, I would project my notes and give feedback to my students following those notes in that ‘chronological’ order.

I was more or less happy with that system, but somehow I felt I could be more organised. That’s how I came up with this chart: it is based on a single-point rubric with four criteria (vocabulary range and control, grammatical accuracy and range, phonological control, discourse). Rather than descriptors, I can write my comments under each of the headings: ‘needs improvement’ and ‘not quite there yet’ on the left-hand side, as ‘areas for concern’, and ‘suggestions’ (=alternatives, synonyms..) and ‘good!’ (expressions I liked) as positive comments on the right-hand side.

Using this chart allows me to give feedback to their spoken productions and interactions in a more organised way, making all the comments about one particular item (vocabulary, pronunciation…) at once, rather than randomly as they came up in their conversations.

You can download the chart by clicking on the image below. It is still a work in progress, so contributions are welcome!

Related posts: giving feedback to students’ written production- workshop materials

Speaking voices in English I like

These are some of the speaking voices in English I like the most, and that I somehow consider ‘models’ of good pronunciation, stress, enunciation…At some points in life, when I have had to do public speaking, I have reminded myself of some of them, thinking, for example: ‘you should show the same poise as Audrey Hepburn when you’re speaking’.

To my mind, their voices are a delight to listen to and might prove a model to imitate when speaking English.

Audrey Hepburn:

Sabrina (1954)

Brian May:

Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4)

Benedict Cumberbatch:

‘Sherlock’ (BBC 2010-2017)

The Imitation Game (2014):

Martin Freeman:

Jeremy Irons:

‘Brideshead Revisited’ (Granada TV 1981)

Emma Thompson

Much Ado About Nothing (1992)

Kenneth Branagh:

Look Back in Anger (1989):

Hamlet (1996):

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002):

Nicole Kidman:

The Others (2001)

Hugh Grant:

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Notting Hill (1999)

Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie

‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ (1987-1995)

Kate Winslet:

Downton Abbey cast:

Michael Sheen:

The Queen (2006)

‘Good Omens’ (Amazon Prime 2019)

Jack Davenport:

‘Coupling’ (BBC 2000-2004)

‘Next of Kin’ (ITV 2018)

TV shows and films about politics and the monarchy

The following TV shows and films deal with aspects of British and American politics, as well as general views on political systems. They can help you gain insight into the history and traditions of those countries, as well as increase your vocabulary on the subject.

UK politics: 

Yes, Minister (1980-1984)/Yes, Prime Minister (1986-1988)- (C2)

The Thick of It (2005-2012) [includes lots of profanity and swearwords]

Love Actually (2003)

One of the many subplots the film deals with involves the British Prime Minister:

The Iron Lady (2011):

Would you like to watch the sessions of the British Parliament live? Click here for BBC Parliament.

British Monarchy: 

The Queen (2006) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

The King’s Speech (2010) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

The Crown (2016-) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

A Very English Scandal (2018) [B2 and upwards, fairly clear British accents]

Years and Years (2019) [show set in Manchester, some Northern accents are noticeable]

US politics: 

All the President’s Men (1976)

The West Wing (1999-2006)

(from 1’30”)

House of Cards (2013-2018)

Veep (2012-2019)

General views on politics: 

The Great Dictator (1940):

V for Vendetta (2005) [B2 and upwards- international cast, but most of them use British English RP pronunciations, regardless of their original accents]

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)