P is for Politeness

The post which follows is an article which appeared in the IATEFL Business English Special Interest Group Newsletter in 2015 

N is for New Information

N is for New Information


Screenshot of front pages of papers

Definition

New information is information that is assumed by the speaker not

  • to be known to or assumed by the addressee, or
  • previously established in the discourse.

Discussion

New information typically

  • is placed late in the sentence, and
  • has a high amount of stress placed on the words representing it.

Examples (English)

In the following exchange, the stressed words are new information:

A: Do you know where my SHOES are?
B: I put them in the CLOSET.

Source

http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsNewInformation.htm

As you can see, the new information becomes OLD information in the second utterance and the NEW information in the response provides additional facts or responds to the new information in the previous utterance.

New information and pronunciation

This high stress placement on the new information is usually called nuclear or tonic stress and marks information which is new or contrasted with information presented in a previous utterance or, simply, adds to or builds on that information.

Lack of such stress placement makes utterances difficult to follow a speaker (whether native or non native) and is a typical problem is foreign learner (and teacher) talk.

In terms of a hypothetical acquisition order of phonological features along the cline between unintelligible and with native like phonological competencies, stress placement seems to be a late acquisition item along with segmentation and catenation.

Thinking Task

Here is the transcript from a clip from the  “Yes, Prime Minister” TV series

It’s a series of aphorisms, which the PM delivers about British newspapers. Read through them and try to predict which parts of each utterance will be delivered with low stress (given information at that particular stage in the discourse) and which particular words will receive high/tonic/nunclear stress (New Information) 

 

Prime Minister:

“The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country,

the Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

the Times is read by people who actually do run the country.

the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.

The Financial Times is read by people who own the country, 

the Morning Star is ready by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, 

and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”

Second speaker:

“Well, Prime Minister, and what about the people who read the Sun?”

Secretary(?):

“The Sun readers don’t care who runs the country as long as she’s got big t***.”

 

Now Scroll down please to listen to how these lines were actually delivered – listen from 1:04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Teaching the feature

I usually do this as a whole lesson on newspapers, part of which has to do with genre and features of different newspaper styles.

If you would like to use this in a lesson you might like to consider this procedure:

Lesson Outline

  1. Lead in with a brief chat about newspapers in the students’ native language. How many are there and what kind are they; what/who do they represent.  What paper do they read, if at all.
  2. Give them a handout with the aphorisms above but with the names of papers blanked out – depending on the local culture you might wish to omit the last one with the asterisked bits.
  3. Ss read and decide which of their local papers fit the descriptions – they can insert the names and practice reading them aloud
  4. Ask them to decide which word(s) in each sentence receive(s) the highest, most prominent stress
  5. Ask them to practice reading the sentences aloud in pairs or groups
  6. Then give them names of English newspapers and they can decide where they fit in
  7. Get them to listen to the video and fill in the names first then listen and mark the stress – check if they were right
  8. Last, ask them to read out their views of their own local papers and assign correct stress.

If you like, they can then add or change some of the aphorisms as they please.

This can be followed by more focused work on the lexical, grammatical and textual features of these papers.

 

 

Books on Discourse Analysis

Brown, G., & Yule, G., 1983, Discourse Analysis, Cambridge University Press

Johnstone, B., 2003, Discourse Analysis, Blackwell

McCarthy, M. 1991, Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers, Cambridge University Press

Partridge, B., 2006, Discourse Analysis – an Introduction,  Continuum International

Thornbury, S., 2005, Beyond the Sentence, Macmillan Education

 

Free Subscription to this blog

If you liked this article, please share it and subscribe to receive regular updates to this blog either by leaving your email in the appropriate box or by subscribing to my RSS feed.

C is for Coherence

Is she coherent? 

Watch this much discussed video of a young beauty pageant contestant answering a question posed by the judges.

 Thinking Tasks

1. Is Miss South Carolina coherent or not?  

2. Read this text and say if it is coherent. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. Where was published?
  2. Who authored it?
  3. What was the author’s purpose for writing it?

These children can be said to have two three or more mother tongues neither language is foreign to that child even if one language is a foreign language for the vast majority of people in the childs birth country. On average in Europe at the start of foreign language teaching learners have lessons for three to four hours a week. The Welsh language is also compulsory up to the age of 16 although a formal qualification is optional..In some countries learners have lessons taken entirely in a foreign language for example more than half of European countries with a minority regional language community use partial immersion to teach both the minority and the state language..In 1995 the s White Paper on Education and Training emphasized the importance of schoolchildren learning at least two foreign languages before upper secondary education.

Scroll down to the end of the post view the answer.

Definitions:

Review the following definitions and choose the best one (or the one you understand best):

1/ Coherence (linguistics)

Coherence in linguistics is what makes a text semantically meaningful.It is especially dealt with in text linguistics. Coherence is achieved through syntactical features such as the use of deicticanaphoric and cataphoric elements or a logical tense structure, as well as presuppositions and implications connected to general world knowledge. The purely linguistic elements that make a text coherent are subsumed under the term cohesion.

Robert De Beaugrande and Wolfgang U. Dressler define coherence as a “continuity of senses” and “the mutual access and relevance within a configuration of concepts and relations” . Thereby a textual world is created that does not have to comply to the real world. But within this textual world the arguments also have to be connected logically so that the reader/hearer can produce coherence.

– from Wikipedia reproduced here 

2/ Here is another definition from the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Applied Linguistics

coherence
Coherence is the quality of meaning unity and purpose perceived in discourse. It is not a property of the linguistic forms in the text and their denotations (though these will contribute to it), but of these cover forms and meanings interpreted by a receiver through knowledge and reasoning. As such, coherence is not an absolute quality of a text, but always relative to a particular receiver and context. A description of coherence is usually concerned with the links inferred between sentences or
utterances. It is often contrasted with COHESION, which is the linguistic realization of such links (Halliday and Hasan, 1976).

3/ A definition from the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics 

coherence n coherent adj
the relationships which link the meanings of UTTERANCES in a DISCOURSE or of the sentences in a text. These links may be based on the speakers’ shared knowledge. For example:
A:Could you give me a lift home?
B: Sorry, I’m visiting my sister.
There is no grammatical or lexical link between A’s question and B’s reply (see COHESION) but the exchange has coherence because both A and B know that B’s sister lives in the opposite direction to A’s home. In written texts coherence refers to the way a text makes sense to the readers through the organization of its content, and the relevance and clarity of its concepts and ideas. Generally a PARAGRAPH has coherence if it is a series of sentences that develop a main idea (i.e. with a TOPIC SENTENCE and supporting sentences which relate to it).

Ideas for Teaching Coherence

As definition 3 points out coherence in conversational exchanges includes less explicit links but written texts do although coherence refers more to the way ideas are related to one another

Cohesion is generally easier to teach as it involves lexical and grammatical links but coherence tends to be more difficult and it would probably involve quite a lot of recognition and analysis work on the information structuring of the genre you are training your learners to produce.

Activities which might encourage recognition and awareness raising – a few ideas:

  • ordering paragraphs into texts or sentences into paragraphs
  • inserting sentences from a list of relevant/irrelevant ones into a completed or incomplete text
  • completing a text where first – last sentence or first – last paragraph are given
  • discussing how ideas in texts are connected to each other – e..g. comparison & contrast ; cause & effect
  • appreciating how well written pieces are put together and analysing how the writer has achieved this effect.

Here is a good post from OnestopEnglish on just this topic with a great paragraph at the end by Scott Thornbury.

Find a great collection of lesson plans here on a variety of aspects of coherent transitions in writing; although intended for K-12 students, ELT teachers can find a great number of ideas which can be easily adapted to the ELT classroom.

Please share your own ideas or links in a comment; if you have written a relevant blog post or found a great link, I hope you will!

thenia2

Answers to thinking tasks 

1. Not! (with all sympathy for this young contestant  who blanked out in front of the cameras..There are follow-up videos where she explains all,  in case you might want to use this in a lesson)

2. The text above was taken from a spam message on my blog – in response to a post about large school chains – franchises in Greece and elsewhere. It is not coherent because:

  1. It is an irrelevant response to the topic of the blog post. Grice’s maxim of Relevance is flouted.
  2. There is no internal coherence in the paragraph; although the sentences are connected by topic,  it is not obvious how the ideas in the sentences are connected to one another .
  3. The text, is a random collection of sentences, probably copied from various education sites and blogs that have to do with foreign language teaching – a stray and random collection. This is what blog spammers do: to get their sites listed, they put together paragraphs from various pages on the web and post, in the hope bloggers will not notice.

Interestingly, the mind of the reader who reads this text, attempts to find/discover some coherence in this text, simply because it has the shape and layout of a paragraph; hence we expect it to be coherent.

IATEFL 2015 | Marisa Constantinides: Evernote for teacher observation and teacher development | Workshop summary

A great summary of a presentation I did at IATEFL in 2015 – using new tools for teacher observation which also lead to self-observation and reflection.

Here are my original presentation slides on Slidebean – I am afraid that on the day of my second presentation at IATEFL (I did this one twice, once for the LT SIG and once for the main conference), slibean betrayed me and was completely down – so Olya’s summary is without my slides but with the tool itself

https://app.slidebean.com/embed/rtCrPpeNEc

Read on

ELT stories

Abstract: A tutor, colleague or supervisor with a notepad taking field notes during a lesson is a common sight on teacher development courses. In this talk, I want to show how the use of Evernote can make teacher observations more effective and create an impact that can last longer, leading teachers in training to further reflection and development. Twitter: @marisa_c; slides will are available on Marisa Constatinides’s slidebean. Video is the most reliable way to capture a lesson. There’s technology allowing to easily videotape the class, e.g. Swivel – the teacher is wearing a device, which allows the camera to follow them. But that’s very expensive. What are some cheap alternatives? A lot of observers take detailed notes of everything that happens, what the students and teachers are doing and saying – essentially, becoming a ‘human video’. Typical notes could have three parts: what happened / what you did well / what you…

View original post 594 more words

G is for Genre

discourse-cloud

Definition 

Genre (play /ˈʒɑːnrə/ or /ˈɑːnrə/; from French, genre French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ʁ], “kind” or “sort”, from Latin: genus (stem gener-), Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.

from Wikipedia; also follow this Wikipedia link for a list of literary genres

Thinking Task

Watch this video of Peter Sellers and think about the features of the genre he is delivering.

How exactly has he achieved his intended effect?

 

 

Comments 

Peter Sellers delivers the words of the famous Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night” in the same manner that a Shakesperean actor would deliver the monologue from Richard III – he is not only dressed and surrounded by the props which we associate with William Shakespeare’s Richard III but his spoken style of delivery imitates the spoken features of this particular theatrical genre.

The effect is hilarious.

Is he insinuating that the manner of delivery may sometimes assign some kind of aura to the words that they might otherwise not have?

I don’t know. But what he (or his director) has created is a wonderful starter for discussions on the notion of genre.

Peter Sellers is flouting Grice’s conversational maxim of manner in the deliberate way that artists do in order to generate thought or to create a comical effect.

Imagine if the Beatles set Richard II’s monologue into music similar to a Hard Day’s night. Would we take the words as seriously then, I wonder.

 

 

 

 

Some Books on Discourse Analysis

 

Upcoming webinars for educators | September – December 2016

For our Delta readers, a list of upcoming webinars, courtesy of Twitter friend Adi Rajan @adi_rajan

Immersivities

Have you attended any interesting webinars lately? I’ve been missing all the good stuff and turning up for the crap ones because let’s face it, it’s not all insights and epiphanies. Here are some webinars to keep you (hopefully) engaged till the end of the year. An * marks webinars that require registration.

iatefl.jpgLanguage 

View original post 816 more words

The Cambridge Delta and Why I Chose the Intensive Course Option

 

Since the time I completed my Delta course and overall assessment, I have received several messages from prospective candidates who want to or have to follow an intensive course because no other viable option is open to them.

teaching

But often, colleagues have read this or that comment, especially in various forums, and have been intimidated or even downright  put off!

The purpose of this post is not to convince people that the intensive Delta course option is easy – why would it be, anyway?

It is a level 7 qualification that allows its holders to be awarded exemptions and credtis from a great number of related M.A programmes in the UK.

And it does give people access to some of the best jobs around! So I didn’t live under the misapprehension that I was going to have a summer holiday in Greece!

The purpose of this post is to clarify some things relevant to the intensive Delta course which I followed (and completed successfully, I will also add!) and hope that those thinking about it will not be frightened away.

My intensive Delta Experience at CELT Athens

The intensive Delta course at CELT Athens lasts for 8 weeks during which candidates attend all Module 1 and Module 2 input sessions  as well as introductory sessions on most specialisms available for Module 3, observe colleagues teaching (these could be tutors, experienced teachers on other courses, or other Delta candidates), write 5 background essays for their assignments, design 5 lesson plans and teach assessed  and  unassessed lessons and complete a Professional Development Assignment which has them taking stock of their progress after 4 points during their course as well as at the very end.

It’s a lot of work.

But hear me out.

  1. It was less intensive than I expected

The intensive Delta course lasts 8 weeks. This means that I had 8 weeks in which to complete 4 LSA’s (glossary at the end of the post)  and the 3 parts of the PDA assignment.

People on the online/blended course attend input sessions and write their background assignments throughout a longer period of time (usually 8 months), true.

But they do this while they are working, so for Module 2, candidates on an intensive course have more time than candidates on a part-time one.  Of course I didn’t have all the time in the world, but I had more time than expected because I was focusing only on my module 2 work during these 8 weeks.

  1. I was fully focused on my course

My understanding is that people choose the online/blended course because they have other commitments (teaching, family, etc.). People who choose to follow an intensive course, though, are much more focused as they spend 8 weeks dealing only with matters related to the Delta course. Also, because of the intensive nature of the course, it is less likely that one might lose touch with the subject matter. This, in my case, helped me pass Module 1 examination without spending very much time revising Module 1-related content.

I felt that this complete focus on the course without any other distractions is what helped me concentrate, organize my work and do well in all my internal assessments, as well as my final external assessments for my Module 2.

  1. I did not have to do everything at once.

thenia2
Observing your colleagues is a lesson in professional development all on its own

There are, indeed, people who need more time than others and cannot handle many things in one time (like preparation and assessment for 3 Delta modules). However, the intensive course does not necessarily mean that candidates have to submit assessment for all three modules at the end of the 8-week period. The only thing that is certain is that by the end of the 8 weeks, candidates will have finished with all the attendance requirements, as well as with Module 2; whether they choose to participate in Module 1 examination and/or submit their Module 3 assignment at the end of the course is the candidates’ choice.

For example, summer candidates have until the beginning of December to revise for their Module 1 exam and to write and submit their Module 3 assignment. Or, they can wait till the next exam session in June.

  1. I acquired some invaluable organisational skills

Having to squeeze all Delta-related tasks in a 8 weeks makes candidates hone up a number of professional skills. One, inevitably, learns how to organize their time, how to be a better team player (because collaboration with one’s fellow course mates is key!), to combine  and synthesise information from different input sessions, to observe, support and help other colleagues and much more! These are skills that I did not expect I would get or improve but which I found of great value when given new responsibilities, for example in my new job supporting teachers.

  1. I learnt how to work under pressure

Being productive under pressure is not everyone’s cup of tea, but teachers do need this skill and experienced teachers who may soon need to acquire more responsibilities either as trainers or academic managers or materials writers, do need to be able to do that!

Following the course I followed an MA course in ELT (for which I got to do 3 modules less than the others because I had the Delta), I got a job supervising teachers for summer school in the UK, worked as an EAP tutor at a University in the UK and, I also got a job with a great local language centre in Greece to help with teacher development and materials writing and, believe me, all these new-found skills have truly made a great difference to my working life.

trello
I used Trello to organise my work

Take the plunge – it’s a great course and a great experience

No matter what course mode one chooses to follow, the Cambridge Delta is – and will be – one of the most prestigious qualification one can attain. Delta holders are employable for top ELT roles in most – if not all – countries and prospective candidates should not be discouraged by hearsay.

In any case, it should be noted that even those who typically tend to scare people away from such courses or modes of study, when asked, usually confess to the Delta being one of the most eye-opening and significant experiences in their careers as teachers. It was for me, too! So I know!

So, if you are interested in applying for a Delta course, contact the centre(s) of your choice and discuss all your concerns, as well as your schedule and preferred mode of study, with an experienced tutor who will be better able to suggest a course that best suits your particular needs.

 

all
Don’t forget to socialise and collaborate – you will be making friends for life! Here, out on the town with my coursemates. 

 

Glossary

Module 1: One of the three Delta modules. Candidates are assessed through a two-part examination,

Module 2: The second Delta module and according to many, the most demanding one. This module’s assessment is continuous and consists of the following parts:

  • Four LSA’s (Language Systems/Skills Assignment): Each LSA consists of a 2,500-word background essay, a lesson plan, delivery of a lesson, and a post-lesson written reflection. Delta candidates have to submit 4 LSAs, three of which are internally assessed and one, the last one, is assessed by an external assessor. Of those, two have to be focused on skills (reading, listening, speaking, or writing) and two on systems (grammar, lexis, discourse analysis, or phonology).
  • A PDA (Professional Development Assignment): This assignment has four parts. For the first one, candidates teach an observed diagnostic lesson, receive feedback and reflect on their performance and beliefs about teaching and learning. For the second part of the PDA, candidates do the same as with part 1 but this time they do so for their first two LSAs. Part 3 of the PDA involves the design, execution, and reflection of an experimental lesson (a lesson in which the candidate tries out a method/technique that they have never tried before in their career). The last part of the PDA involves the candidate’s reflection on their overall progress and development.

Module 3: This is the third Delta module and is assessed by submission of an extended written assignment on a specialization of the candidate’s choice. Usually, this assignment is about syllabus/course design

 

From Manager to Leader 

 

leadership
Reblogged from the iTDi blog 

by Bita Rezaei

Ask anyone and they will tell you there is a difference between being a manager and a leader but where the difference lies doesn’t seem to get beyond the quote “managers drive, leaders lead.”  History is filled with wisdom and case studies on the qualities of good leaders and effective leadership. Over the past few years there have been so many books, articles and blog posts published around the “how to’s” of becoming a good leader,  but as tempting as it may seem to call yourself one, it is not that easy.

It is said that management is career whereas leadership is a choice – a calling. Leaders get their power and authority not from their positions but from the trust people put in them. While at times you can tell a manager from miles away by a fair judgment of the dress code, way of speaking and mannerism, being a leader calls for another set of characteristics. To me, it’s about having that intangible charismatic component that some people have and some just don’t.

 

Continue Reading