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Patrick Andrews

Pessoa and thoughts on grammar

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015, 22:40

I have just been reading a translation of an unusual book by Pessoa (1991) and was particularly intrigued by some thoughts on grammar towards the end of it.  Many of them seem to relate interestingly to concepts covered in E303 and E301.

The first is "grammar is a tool not a law" (page 231).  This seems to relate to the ideas of SFL where there is such an emphasis on the functions that language serves.

There is then a long paragraph where he suggests that "someone who understands what is involved in speaking often needs to make a transitive verb intransitive and vice versa" and that "If I wanted to talk about my existence as an entity that both directs and forms itself.....I would have to inventa transitive form and say grammatically supreme 'I exist me'" (page 231).  This quote is interesting as "I exist me" seems similar to the kinds of structures used in spoken English (Carter 2004).  Pessoa also seems to be explicitly linking grammatical deviance to creative and literary texts.

There is then another call for appropriate deviance "Only those who are unable to think what they feel obey grammatical rules.  Someone who knows how to express themselves can use those rules as he pleases.  There's a story they tell of Sigismund, King of Rome, who, having made a grammatical mistake in a public speech , said to the person who pointed this out "I am King of Rome and therefore above grammar" (page 231-232). 

These points resonated with many of my thoughts recently.  For example, I was thinking of this as I heard David Cameron recently say "I are...."  I have not seem this referred to in the press and I slightly wonder whether he was using the mistake/deviance as a tool for expressing (perhaps manufactured) anger about the recent EU bill.

Carter R (2004) Language and creativity: The art of common talk London: Routledge

Pessoa F (translated 1991) The Book of Disquiet London: Serpent's Tail.

 

 

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Patrick Andrews

Meeting students again

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 4 Nov 2014, 16:15

I currently teach courses at level 1 and level 3 (plus a Masters level module).  This year, some of my students in the level 3 module, Analysing English Grammar (E303) are students I know from having taught them EAP Online (L185).  It will be interesting to see the extent to which they have developed and used the skills of EAP Online.

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Patrick Andrews

Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters

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The new L161 course makes use of the Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters (Byram et al 2009).  It seems to be a useful document in that it provides a framework for the analysis of intercultural encounters.  However one aspect slightly puzzles me and that is the use of the question "Who am I?".  Thinking about significant intercultural encounters I have had, it appears that they change who I think I am and I would think the relevant question would be "Who was I?".

It seems to make use of the principles of reflection dealing with "what?", "so what?" and "now what?" (Barrett 2001).  The first stage after the "Who am I?" section involves describing the encounter (page 6).  The section on the importance (page 7) deals with the question "so what?" .  The section on "looking back and looking forward" (page 18ff) seems to deal with the issue of "now what?".

 

Barrett, H.C. (2001) “Electronic Portfolios: a chapter to be published in Educational Technology: an Encyclopedia [online] Available from http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/encycentry.pdf (Accessed 28 October 2007)

Byram M, Barrett M, Ipgrave J,  Méndez García M de C, Buchannon- Barrow E, Davcheva L, Krapf P, Leclercq J-M (2009) Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters Council of Europe Available at http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/autobiography/Source/AIE_en/AIE_autobiography_en.pdf [Accessed October 21st 2014]

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Patrick Andrews

Welcome to new students on E303 and L185

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Students on these course are just starting a new presentation.  There is beginning to be some activity on the Tutor Group Forums.

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Patrick Andrews

L161 briefing

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 22 Sept 2014, 16:37

I was in Milton Keynes for a briefing for tutoring on this new course (L161 Exploring Languages and Cultures) on Saturday.  It looks like a very interesting course and I think students should be looking forward to doing it.

There are examples from many different languages and text types.  For example, there is an interesting analysis of different kinds of menus in different kinds of contexts where it is pointed out that the categories expected on menus in Britain and the ordering of these is not the same on Chinese menus.

 

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Patrick Andrews

Student feedback

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I have had some mixed feedback on the same course.  One student was so keen on my work that she named me in response to a question of who was significant for her studies and made some very generous comment.

In the anonymous feedback for the same course, I generally got good feedback but for each category, there was one who wrote negative comments.  I can entirely understand that there are different opinions and students should give their honest views.  However, some of the feedback is demonstrably (or could be demonstrated as) untrue - e.g. feedback that messages were not replied to.  I am sure that one rogue person who seems to maliciously criticise would be ignored in the greater context but I wonder whether there should be a need to demonstrate criticisms are reasonable.  I suppsoe this might affect anonymity.

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Patrick Andrews

Talk the Talk MOOC again - terms of address

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014, 13:19

It still seems to be going well and many students have been supportive of each other.  There are, however, some postings that seem unnecessarily negative about presentations that people have posted.

One thing that has been striking is how often terms of address have been problematic.  Some people have been using titles (Mr X etc) and Madam/Sir.  These seem to be misinterpreted at times.  There is a perhaps a need for clearer expectations about the level of equality that is expected.

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Patrick Andrews

Talk the Talk MOOC Week 5

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The course generally seems to be going well.  Something that is striking is that in week 5, there are quite a large number of students still posting on the early activities, stating that they are just starting the course.  I am trying to reply to at least some of the postings by these students so that they are aware that we are interested in their contributions and still keen to encourage them.

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Patrick Andrews

An "intense" OU Live session

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014, 13:23

I had an OU Live meeting last night which seemed particularly intense in terms of the demands that I was under.  One of the students was having problems with sound so was typing about this problem in the chat box.  I was feeling under pressure to support her as I also spoke and manipulated the white board and also tried to encourage engagement from the other students in the group.  Sometimes the demands on tutors can be quite extreme when doing OU Live sessions.

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Patrick Andrews

Weeks 2 and 3 of the Presentation Skills MOOC

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Students still seem engaged on the course and there is plenty of useful discussion occurring.  I am trying to encourage and support by making my presence felt.  There was one unusual reply to a message I posted - "yah".  I find it hard to interpret.

 

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Patrick Andrews

First week of Talk the Talk MOOC

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The first week was interesting to experience.  There were many comments and the discussions seemed to be lively.  Many of the concepts were perceptive but the main impression was of energy as there seemed to be postings almost by the minute.  I wonder what student responses to such a busy course are.

The course I took as a student (on Corpus Analysis) had many more facilitators and they were more visible as a result.  I hope that students do not feel that there is too little presence of the facilitators but they are only human and cannot be present all day every day.

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Patrick Andrews

A Future Learn MOOC on presentation skills

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Aug 2014, 16:59

I will be working as a facilitator on the Future Learn MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on presentation skills.  If anyone reading this wants to join, they can do so at:

http://www.futurelearn.com/courses/talk-the-talk

It is free to register for it. 

I hope to post some thoughts on how it goes as the course progresses.

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Patrick Andrews

End of two courses for this presentation

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 24 June 2014, 13:35

Recently finished L185 and E301 for this presentation - time goes so quickly.  They are both good courses and students who work hard on them learn a great deal.

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Patrick Andrews

100 years since Sun Ra was born

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 12 June 2014, 10:11

It is the centenary of Sun Ra's birth today.  

I wrote a post about a documentary about him here:

http://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=137228 

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Patrick Andrews

OU Live for LB160

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 21:45

OU Live is being used for LB160 for the first time this presentation.  We had the first two sessions last week.  Students in one group needed help getting used to the technology but those in the second group were already familiar with similar systems which meant we could concentrate on the content of the session.

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Patrick Andrews

Committed students (continued)

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Saturday, 29 Mar 2014, 22:15

I have commented before on the inspiring commitment of many students and this was underlined again this week by the example of a student who woke up for an OU Live tutorial at 4 am where he lives.

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Patrick Andrews

Supporting students through tutor group forums

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 20 Mar 2014, 16:04

I have been thinking about the roles of the tutor group forums in supporting learners and this seems to be particularly relevant on L185 where learners face more challenging texts for TMA 4 than they had been exposed to before.

It seems to me that the following could help to scaffold them:

- encouraging top down reading strategies

- asking questions

- encouraging learners to use the "collective intelligence* of the group.

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Patrick Andrews

E303 tutorial

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 17 Mar 2014, 10:54

The tutorial for E303 on Saturday was quite enjoyable.  The students had the opportunity to practise their skills in using the concordancer.  However, even more importantly, they had a chance to use it to explore the language and they were able to notice some of the results of different searches.

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Patrick Andrews

MOOc on Corpus Linguistics,

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I decided to try the MOOc on corpus linguistics.  For a response to my first week on the course, see http://patrickdandrews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/initial-impressions-of-corpus.html

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Patrick Andrews

Creativity in OU Live

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 26 Jan 2014, 12:49

Several students have referred to creativity in OU Live sessions.  This often seems to occur when switching between chat at the beginning (while waiting to see if other students will come) and starting on the content of the sessions.  I would be interested in examples people notice.

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Patrick Andrews

"Intensity" in OU Live

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The term "intensity" came up in an OU Live session yesterday where some students commented on how busy the tools.  They commented on how they were listening, speaking and also writing in the text box as well as reading the comments and looking at the whiteboard.

It is hard for the tutor and the participants to follow some of the strands that are going on.  I suppose there is a tendency to ensure that the sessions are seen as being valuable.

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Patrick Andrews

Linguistic creativity in a documentary about Sun Ra

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 22 May 2014, 21:25

(This is an adapted version of a posting on my blog at http://patrickdandrews.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/creative-language-use-in-documentary.html )

I  recently came across the Sun Ra documentary "A Joyful Noise".  It seemed an interesting time to see it as it provides examples of language use that are creative just as students on E301 (The Art of English) are thinking about creativity in spoken language in preparation for an assignment.  It also allowed me to think about my interests in creativity in jazz and language and how they might intersect.

 

It is, to some extent a companion piece to my posting about creative language in a football podcast .  Here are some initial thoughts about creative uses of language in this documentary.  These suggest that there is a great deal of overlap between the ways that he presents himself musically, visually and through his use of language.

 

It is worth providing some contextual information about Sun Ra as this seems to affect the content and the style of what he says in the film.  He was born Herman Blount but claimed to have come from Saturn (Cook and Morton 2008) and this is presumably where the name comes from.  As a result, many of his compositions have a space theme with titles like "Saturn" and "Space is the Place".  There is also an interest in ancient Egypt (and this perhaps reflects the Ra part of the name) as can be seen from the film and song titles like "Sunset on the River Nile".  The film also gives a flavour of his music with the mixture of avant garde and rather traditional styles.

 

There is stylised repetition throughout much of the documentary and this occurs in short extracts but also at the level of the whole film.  In terms of repetition at a local level, there is an example after about 5 minutes.  Here, there is a call and response passage where Sun Ra speaks with his group repeating what he has said (e.g "I have many names" "many names").  This is a rather unusual version of how repetition can be used creatively as part of pattern forming (Carter 2004).  He also repeats "I have many names" like the poetic repetitions of many poems.There is thus a kind of foregrounding due to grammatical and semantic parallelism (Maybin and Pearce 2006).  This foregrounding seems to have the effect of making the viewer think about the importance of names.  The names seem to be presenting a particular identity and the identity seems to be presented as complex because the names are varied and unusual.

 His asserted identity as a complex and enigmatic man is reinforced by a pun.  He says "Some call me Mr Ra.  Others call me Mister E".  This seems to also refer to "mystery" and this seems to be more obvious in the way that his band members repeat the word.  Here the pun seems to reinforce the enigmatic image presented by his name, the music, the clothes.  It seems that here the language used is working in conjunction with other aspects of how he presents himself.  This seems to have parallels to Eckert and McConnell-Ginet’s (1999 in McCrae and Swann 2006) observations about how language use combines with other features to present identity. 

 He again uses a pun at about 11.15 minutes.  He makes the link between history and his story.  His story is also contrasted with my story. It is possible that this is related to his identity as a "Black American" musician (Cook and Morton (2008) refer to this in their discussion of his supposed origins) and the ways that much history taught in schools does not reflect the history that is relevant to his life.  This identification with Black America reappears at about 19 and a half minutes when he comments that he sees "The White House" but does not see "The Black House".

The theme of history/his story is repeated at the end.  He consciously repeats "They say that history repeats itself, they say that history repeats itself, repeats itself.  But history is his story.  It's not my story.  What's your story?"  Interestingly, this rather artfully repetitive language comes just after an infectiously repetitive tune.  These repetitions of themes throughout the documentary perhaps seem to reflect the ways that musical themes are used to provide structure to music.

At around 17 minutes, it is the Egyptian interest that comes to the fore and there is again a particular use of repetition.  He sets up one idea before giving a different perspective as he says "Somehow ancient Egypt is thought of as a kingdom of bondage but it would be better to say the kingdom of discipline".  This seems interesting in several ways.  One is that it reminds us that politicians and PR consultants can use euphemisms to show unpleasant details in a more favourable light.  Secondly, one of his most famous compositions is called "Discipline" so it raises the possibility that this is the discipline being referred to.

There is also a metaphor (Cameron 2006) when he says that the" stones speak through vibrations of beauty".  Although many metaphors can be stale, this one does not seem to be and seems to be part of the general language play of his comments (Cook 2006).  This language play becomes more apparent when he plays with "ocracy" endings (around 23:30).  Mythocracy seems to be a neologism.  Interestingly this is followed by some very "free" music.  Both the word and the music seem to have a schema refreshing role.

There are intertextual elements (Maybin and Pearce 2006) as he says "We hold these myths to be potential, they hold their truths to be self evident but our myth is not self evident because it is a mystery. I am not part of history, I'm more a part of the mystery, which is my story."  Here he seems to be referring to the Declaration of Independence and his own punning of "mystery/my story". So, the references refer back to a knowledge that he assumes the audience has as well as what they have seen earlier in the film.

These are just some initial observations on how the language used in this film have a relationship with the musical and visual elements.  Sun Ra seems to use language to reflect the identity he has created for himself.  Much of the language seems to refresh the schemata of the viewers/listeners.  There also seem to be parallels between the use of language and the music he plays with references to the past but also to the new (as in the coining of new forms such as "mythocracy").  There are repetitions and revoicings of words and ideas that also seem to reflect the way that jazz tends to work through musicians improvising around themes.

References:

Cameron L (2006) "Metaphor in Everyday Language" in Maybin J and Swann J (eds) The Art of English: Literary Creativity Basingstoke: Palgrave

Carter R (2004) Language and Creativity: The Art of Common Talk Abingdon: Routledge.

Cook G (2006) "Why play with language" in Maybin J and Swann J (eds) The Art of English: Everyday Creativity Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Cook R and Morton B (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Ninth Edition) London: Penguin.

McCrae S and Swann J (2006 "Putting on the Style" in Maybin J and Swann J (eds) The Art of English: Everyday Creativity Basingstoke: Palgrave

Maybin J and Pearce (2006) "Literature and Creativity in English" in Goodman S and O'Halloran K The Art of English: Literary Creativity Basingstoke: Palgrave

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Patrick Andrews

Creatvity portrayed in films

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 25 Sept 2014, 12:57

As I tutor on the Art of English course, I am always interested by the topic of creativity.  A few incidents in the "Muscle Shoals" film struck me. 

One was that Aretha Franklin had been recognised as a talented singer for some time before she was successful but she seemed to work in an inappropriate genre for a long time before she really found the type of music that enabled her to really create.  There was an incident in the film where many musicians were trying things out and getting nowhere until the keyboard player made a breakthrough.  I suppose this was the creative spark that the others needed.  So, it was a cognitive spark but needed to be done in a social setting.

 

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Patrick Andrews

Unqualified teachers in state schools

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There has been much discussion recently about the hiring of unqualified teachers in state schools eg http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/20/nick-clegg-david-laws-free-schools  The discussion seemed to reach a new height of absurdity last night on Newsnight when Tristan Hunt seemed to say quite clearly that he disagreed with it and Jeremy Paxman kept saying he was unclear.

I would not be happy for my son to be taught by an unqualified teacher for the following reasons:

1 Teacher training courses seem to provide useful training for teachers - I know I was much more competent after doing a PGCE.  This does not mean that teachers are perfect at the end of it (they never are) but the fact of having done the course gives skills and experience that will enable them to develop further afterwards.

2 A teacher who is not motivated enough to do a teacher training course is not likely to be a particularly well motivated teacher in terms of thinking about pedagogy.

 

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Patrick Andrews

OU Live continued

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Still finding some problems with students' sound quality although they report that my sound quality is good.

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