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Patrick Andrews

Poetry as the "great unsettler"

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 13 Dec 2011, 10:34

I admire her principles in refusing the prize but I also like her points that "poetry is the great unsettler. It questions the established order of the mind. It is radical, by which I don't mean that it is either leftwing or rightwing, but that it works at the roots of thinking. It goes lower than rhetoric, lower than conversation, lower than logic, right down to the very faint honest voice at the bottom of the skull."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/12/ts-eliot-poetry-prize-pulled-out

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Patrick Andrews

Another article critical of changes to university funding

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 12 Dec 2011, 17:34

Here is another article about changes to university funding.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n24/keith-thomas/universities-under-attack

It seems to me that the government have a flawed understanding of what universities are about and how collaboration rather than competition is the default and best mindset of academics.  There are occasions when competition is appropriate (as when applying for grants) but generosity has been the main attitude I have experienced when communicating with academics from other universities.

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Patrick Andrews

The language of tutor group forums

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 24 Nov 2011, 12:16

There has been some discussion amongst the E852 tutors about the nature of the tutor group forums and, in particular, how formal and academic the language should be.  It is a complex question and it perhaps relates to the relative importance of different aims for the forums.

One of the aims is for the students to interact and this would seem to suggest that the language should be relatively informal.  Encouragement of interaction would perhaps tend to focus on frequent and relatively unreflective posting.

Another aim would be for students to explore ideas on the course.  This might suggest a more academic style as students refer to experience as well as what they have been reading.

Another important aim might be for the students to rehearse the kinds of ideas and the language needed for their later work.  This might tend to suggest that students should post in a relatively academic way.

I would think that it might be appropriate for the students to use a variety of different voices as they post but would be interested in what others think.

 

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Patrick Andrews

Evaluating online sources

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 15 Nov 2011, 15:52

Some useful guidelines can be found here:

http://edsitement.neh.gov/reference-shelf/tips-for-better-browsing/evaluating-online-resources

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Patrick Andrews

Elluminate again

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Did another Elluminate session yesterday.  I think that one of the grreatest benefits is that students can share skills.  For example, one of the students told the rest of the group how to do screenshots and this seemed to be reassuring and some of the rest of the group seemed to appreciate a spoken explanation in addition to the one on the course website.
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Patrick Andrews

Numbers again

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 10 Nov 2011, 14:44

I suppose a theme is beginning to emerge about my scepticism about numbers and thinking about education and this was reinforced by visiting my son's school this morning to meet his teacher.

The teacher had given us a profile with various numbers on that are supposed to represent his current level in various subjects.  She did not really explain them but more importantly, the numbers and our discussion did not points to detailed strengths and weaknesses and strategies for development.

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Patrick Andrews

"Averages will be of no help"

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 10 Nov 2011, 14:43

This seems like a balanced criticism of what appears to be a naive attempt to produce a league table of English skills.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/sep/13/languages-tefl

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Patrick Andrews

Elluminate session for E852

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It was good being able to talk to students on the course yesterday and I think Elluminate can play an important affective role in bringing students together and giving extra momentum to their studies.  Does anyone have thoughts on this?
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Patrick Andrews

Useful site for developing academic English

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A useful site for helping learners with developing English for academic purposes.

http://www.open.ac.uk/tutors/dae/


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Patrick Andrews

E852

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This new course is just about to start officially.  It is replacing the E844 course and although there are areas of overlap, it does have quite a lot of new content and makes much more use of the course website as opposed to printed materials.  It seems much more modern.
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Patrick Andrews

Letters in The Gurdian on Language Learning

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Very important points are made in these letters, especially the first.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/oct/03/languages-arabic-zapotec-michael-gove?INTCMP=SRCH

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Patrick Andrews

Stephen Fry's Planet word

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 3 Oct 2011, 16:20

Of course the topic is fascinating but I am rather disappointed in the programme so far, partly because it seems to be more about Stephen Fry than language.  It seemed bizarre that the accents of the UK were imitated by Stephen Fry rather than authentic examples being given.

However, perhaps the programme will encourage more people to be interested in language and Fry does seem to have the right instincts in terms of preservation of languages.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b015qqkl/Frys_Planet_Word_Identity/

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Patrick Andrews

David Crystal on language and the internet

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Quite an interesting and accessible talk on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2XVdDSJHqY

 

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Patrick Andrews

article on language skills and job seekers

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This is a good article.  I think the point about making use of languages spoken by migrants is very important.  I think this happens to some extent but it would be useful for the government to acknowledge that migrants often bring linguistic skills as well as needs. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2011/sep/16/language-skills-job-requirement?CMP=twt_gu

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Patrick Andrews

Languages and international relations

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There was a brief item this morning on the Today programme about the importance of language learning.  It was discussing some of the problems of a lack of knowledge of key languages around the world (eg Arabic) amongst those involved in international relations.  Just occasionally, this issue is mentioned by the media but I do not see much evidence of the government giving this priority.
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Patrick Andrews

More by Stefan Collini on university funding

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011, 12:10

Another article from the London Review of Books

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n16/stefan-collini/from-robbins-to-mckinsey

Two points that I think are important are:

1  that academics frequently collaborate and therefore the attempt to introduce competition is not very appropriate

2 learning is frequently hard and that student pleasure is not necessarily synonymous with learning. 

 

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Patrick Andrews

A useful looking data base on accents

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I have only had time for a quick browse so far but this site looks very useful for finding out about the effect different languages are likely to have on accents.

http://accent.gmu.edu/howto.php 

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Patrick Andrews

Michael Rosen and the phone hacking hearings

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 22 Jul 2011, 11:24

Michael Rosen makes some useful points about the use of language in the article below but there is much more analysis that can be done - I assume that in the fullness of time it will be.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/22/phone-hacking-scandal-language-evasion

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Patrick Andrews

language and football

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 17 Jul 2011, 15:49
I heard on the radio that Chelsea players have all been told that they should speak English on club premises.  This strikes me as dubious in terms of rights if they are having private conversations with team mates who speak the same language.  I would be interested in what people like Phillipson, who write about linguistic human rights, think about this.
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Patrick Andrews

language links

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 8 Jul 2011, 15:32

An intriguing site about how websites link to websites with different languages on the web.

http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2011/07/languages-of-world-wide-web.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FgJZg+%28Official+Google+Research+Blog%29&utm_content=Twitter

 

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Patrick Andrews

Analysing Second Life interaction

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I made a first go at analysing some recordings of the Second Life sessions we did in April.  I was influenced by conversation analysis as described in Hutchby and Woofitt (2008) but did not do a full painstaking conversation analysis.

It is noticeable how often there is a spoken conversation going on at the same time as people were using text chat about often quite different issues.  It was also quite interesting to notice that students would sometimes write comments that undermined what was being said.  For example, one student was saying that speaking was quite simple in second life and a message popped up on the text chat saying "Not for me it wasn't.

Hutchby, I. and Woofitt, R (2008) Conversation Analysis Second Edition Cambridge: Polity.

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Patrick Andrews

linguistics in the media

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 13 Jun 2011, 09:43

An interesting article about bilingualism in The Observer today, showing the advantages of being bilingual.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jun/12/ellen-bialystok-bilingual-brains-more-healthy

The question about trilingualism raises important issues about the practicalities of linking this research to the configuration of the brain rather than social factors.  Presumably many people who learn a third language have done so as a choice (although there are many parts of the world where three languages are used).

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Patrick Andrews

Turnitin

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Increasingly universities are using Turnitin to check on whether assignments are being plagiarised and I was looking at the results for some student work yesterday. 

It struck me that although it is useful, the findings have to be treated with caution.  One student had quite a high score but many of the hits related to her bibliography, which included the standard items.  Another student had 0% matches which seemed to indicate it was not related to any previous academic work so perhaps a very low score is also problematic.  Despite this, I think it does have a useful consciousness raising function for students making them aware of how they use sources.

 

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Patrick Andrews

Taunton Day School Handout 2

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 20 May 2011, 16:24

This is the second handout from the Taunton day school with brief notes in  italics.

Using grammatical analysis to be critical

 

Aims

 

1 To examine how texts with a strong stance can be analysed in terms of the course concepts you have covered.

2 To have an awareness of how these texts can be changed and the effects these would have.

 

A text with a clear position expressed

 

As you read through the text, fill in the following table:

 

Field of the text

 

 

Tenor

 

 

Mode

 

 

 

Read through the text and underline what you think are significant indicators of the stance of the writers of this text.  How are they trying to manipulate/persuade the readers?

Some things to notice:

Stance - our

Governments would be selected ..... (cf "We would select.... )

modality

placement of Australia (trying to hide a big country?)

repetitions

Our current tried and tested voting system gives everyone one vote and delivers clear outcomes. The Alternative Vote is a complicated, expensive and unfair system that gives some people more votes than others. It might sound like a small change but the danger is in the detail – it's a politicians' fix.

Governments would be selected (espistemic) through backroom deals and people would have no control over where their vote goes. It should be (deontic) voters that decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system. Defend one person, one vote. Vote NO to AV on 5 May.

Why Vote No

AV is costly
The change to AV will cost up to an additional £250 million. Local councils would have to waste money on costly electronic vote counting machines and expensive voter education campaigns. With ordinary families facing tough times can we really afford to spend a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers' money bringing in a new voting system? Schools and hospitals, or the Alternative Vote – that's the choice in this referendum.

AV is complex and unfair
The winner should be the candidate that comes first, but under AV the candidate who comes second or third can actually be elected. That’s why it is used by just three countries in the world – Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea . Voters should decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system. We can't afford to let the politicians off the hook by introducing a loser's charter.

AV is a politician's fix
AV leads to more hung parliaments, backroom deals and broken promises like the Lib Dem tuition fees U-turn. Instead of the voters choosing the government, politicians would hold power. Under AV, the only vote that really counts is Nick Clegg's. We can't afford to let the politicians decide who runs our country.

Vote NO to AV on 5 May 2011

NOtoAV is a campaign that has support from right across the country. Members of the public, trade unionists and members of several political parties are part of a campaign that has a common goal. Whilst we have many different views on what system of elections is best for Britain, we all believe that the Alternative Vote (AV) system will only damage Britain 's democracy

 

http://www.no2av.org/why-vote-no/ (accessed 4th May 2011)

 

Try making changes that will make the stance the opposite to the one given in the text. For example “Our current tried and tested voting system gives everyone one vote and delivers clear outcomes” could be changed to “Their old fashioned discredited system gives some people power and delivers unfair outcomes”.

 

How would you classify the kinds of changes you make?

 

Analysing an example of a text with the opposing position

 

How would you go about analyzing the position exemplified in the text below?

 

 

 

How is it similar to or different from the first text?

 

 

What are alternative verbs that could be used for the underlined ones and what difference would they make?

 

 

 Things to note

- change of "must" in headline to "should".

- high density of the word "conservative" in the last two paragraphs. 

 

Britainmust change its electoral system – or slump back to Ukania

The AV system isn't/  might not be ideal, but it's the best choice we have. Voters should seize this opportunity: it will not come again

 

·        

 

Today, Britain holds what is only its second national referendum, and the first to be unconditionally binding. It's a big day. Any British voter who wants this country to move towards a more open and responsive political system should turn out to say yes to the introduction of the alternative vote in general elections. That's a small first step, but others would follow.

Illustration by Matt Kenyon

If, as most opinion polls now suggest, the Noes have it, this will be a victory not just for the Conservatives, as a party, but for a small-c conservative, English view of how Britainshould be. It will be the political counterpart of last week's royal wedding. Those of us who want constitutional reform that keeps the baby of British traditions, but throws out the dirty bathwater, will be dunked right back in that bathwater. The conservative, English-dominated, ramshackle kingdom of Ukania (to borrow the Scottish writer Tom Nairn's ironic coinage) will endure, until eventually one of its constituent parts – probably Scotland – decides that enough is enough.n

It is amazing how the anger at the dysfunctional, corrupt old politics of Westminster , which exploded in 2009 over the issue of MPs' expenses, seems to have evaporated. "Our political system is broken," said the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition programme for government, published less than a year ago, and signed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Our system is broken – so don't fix it, says Cameron now, campaigning vigorously against electoral reform, stuffing an unreformed House of Lords with party placelings, and insisting only on a redrawing of constituency boundaries that benefits his party. Joining him to defend the first-past-the-post electoral system, many Labour veterans show themselves to be conservatives under the skin.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/05/av-electoral-reform-for-best (Accessed 5th May 2011)

 

 

 

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Patrick Andrews

A London Review of Books article on universities

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 09:40

Another LRB article on universities that questions some assumptions about Ivy League universities and the way that the government seems to be uncritical.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n10/howard-hotson/dont-look-to-the-ivy-league

The following is a key quote:

"Might markets have the beneficial side effect of driving up academic standards? Much depends on the measure you use; but the academic standard that markets are most likely to drive up is the one that matters most to high-fee-paying students: marks. Way back when, the average mark in the US was supposed to be a C. Nowadays, the more expensive the university, the higher the average mark, with the average in private universities now an A-minus. Why is grade inflation so closely correlated with fee inflation? The reason can easily be guessed. If you’ve attended one of America’s hundred costliest colleges or universities and paid upwards of $200,000 for a four-year degree, then it had better be a good one."

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