3 REASONS WHY ENGLISH IS A WEIRD AND CONFUSING LANGUAGE

 

 

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English is weird. This is something that people have simply accepted and unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are that you’ve encountered at least a few of the inconsistencies that comprise one of the most widely used languages in the world today.

Spelling is one thing, but even when spoken, the language is full of rules, contradictions, and exemptions that can make a person’s head spin. Still not convinced? Here are three reasons why English is such a strange language:

  1. English is not a phonetic language.

Basically, this means that unlike many languages whose words are spelled the way they sound, when spoken, the English language contains 44 different sounds derived from only 26 letters when written. One letter can have many different sounds, which for people unfamiliar with the language, would be impossible to discern only from the spelling.

  1. English words are littered with silent letters.

Over, the past few hundred years, there has been a steady effort to standardize the spelling of English words. In the 16th century, the people who were in charge of putting together the dictionaries as we know them today, decided to pay tribute to the words’ Latin origins and reflected it through spellings. Thus, we now have “debt” from the word “debitum” and “receipt” from “recepta“. This is understandable for words with Latin origins, but what isn’t, is applying the same concept to words that don’t, such as changing the spelling of the Old English word “yland” or “iland” to “island“.

  1. Saying what you mean can be complicated.

Idioms can often be found in many different languages, with its numbers reaching to thousands in some cases and believe it or not, there is an estimate of at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language. This is according to Wikipedia’s page on the subject. Most origins or derivations of these idioms have been lost to time and while using them to insert playfulness and creativity in our way of speaking and writing can be fun, it’s most likely that readers who are new to the language will be too confused and bewildered to understand them in the first place.

Why is English like this? What made it so strange? Well, it all boils down to history as English actually started as essentially German and throughout history developed into what it is today through the fusion of words and spellings from different languages. As such, English has thousands of derived words together with its native ones expressing the same things, just with different levels of formality. For example, Help is English, aid is French, and assist is Latin. Or, kingly is English, royal is French, regal is Latin.

None of these reasons stop people from acquiring English as their second language of course, but with all its structural oddness when compared to other languages, it’s a wonder we learned English at all!

 

Sources & References:

https://worldchoice-education-blog.com/2015/10/08/why-english-spelling-is-weird-and-how-you-can-master-it/

http://www.cracked.com/article_20713_5-reasons-english-language-makes-no-freaking-sense.html

https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiom

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DIFFERENT ESL TEACHING METHODS

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Throughout the years, there have been various methods and approaches that have been developed for teaching English to non-native speakers, each with its own pros and cons depending on the setting, situation, and resources available to the instructor and student. As a teacher, it will be up to you to choose which one will be most effective for your class. Below we will discuss the brief overviews of a number of these methods.

 

The Direct Method

In this method, the teaching is done entirely in the target language. The learner is not allowed to use his or her mother tongue. Grammar rules are avoided and there is an emphasis on good pronunciation. The benefit of using this method is to immerse the students in English. This is done by providing demonstrations on how to use the language with the help of realia and visual aids.

 

Grammar-translation

Learning is mostly achieved by translation to and from the target language. Grammar rules are to be memorized and long lists of vocabulary learned by heart. There is little or no emphasis placed on developing the oral ability.

 

Audio-lingual

The theory behind this method is that learning a language means acquiring habits. There is much practice of dialogues of every situation. The new language is first heard and extensively drilled before being seen in its written form. Accurate pronunciation and control of structure are of paramount importance.

 

Total Physical Response (TPR)

TPR works by having the learner respond to simple commands such as “Stand up”, “Close your book”, “Go to the window and open it.” The method stresses the importance of aural comprehension. This is based on the theory that the memory is enhanced through association with the physical movement. It is also closely associated with theories of mother language acquisition in very young children, where they respond physically to parental commands. TPR as an approach to teaching a second language is based, first and foremost, on listening and this is linked to physical actions which are designed to reinforce comprehension of particular basic items.

 

Communicative language teaching (CLT)

The focus of this method is to enable the learner to communicate effectively and appropriately in the various situations she would be likely to find herself in. The content of CLT courses are functions such as inviting, suggesting, complaining or notions such as the expression of time, quantity, location.

 

The Natural Approach

This approach stresses the similarities between learning the first and second languages. There is no correction of mistakes. Learning takes place by the students being exposed to language that is comprehensible or made comprehensible to them.

 

Sources:

http://esl.fis.edu/teachers/support/method.htm

http://busyteacher.org/20224-6-popular-esl-teaching-methods.html

15 ENGLISH TIDBITS YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF

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English is the greatest language in the world in terms of the sheer number of words, with the Oxford Dictionary containing 615,000 entries, and it being an official language in seventy-nine countries and territories. It is also full of inventions, borrowings, strange words, alterations, and words you never even knew you’ll ever need.

Let’s take a look at some often unheard of facts about this fascinating language.

  1. The part of a wall between two windows is called the interfenestration.
  2. Ahecatompedon is a building measuring precisely 100ft × 100ft.
  3. The opposite of déjà-vu is called jamais-vu: it describes the odd feeling that something very familiar is actually completely new.
  4. Oysterhoodmeans “reclusiveness,” or “an overwhelming desire to stay at home.”
  5. The bowl formed by cupping your hands together is called a gowpen.
  6. repdigit is a number comprised of a series of repeated numbers, like 9,999.
  7. Sermocination is the proper name for posing a question and then immediately answering it yourself.
  8. Whipper-tooties are pointless misgivings or groundless excuses for not trying to do something.
  9. Mochas are named after a port in Yemen, from where coffee was exported to Europe in the 18th century.
  10. In the 18th century, teachers were nicknamed “haberdashers of pronouns.”
  11. The following sentence contains seven different spellings of the sound “ee”: ‘He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas’.
  12. The first English dictionary was written in 1755.
  13. If you write any number in words (English), count the number of letters, write this new number in words and so on, you’ll always end with number 4.
  14. ‘Subdermatoglyphic’ is the longest English word that can be written without repeating any letters. It has 17 letters in it, and it’s the medical name for the layer of skin beneath the fingertips.
  15. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning “containing arsenic.”

 

 

Sources & References

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-anthony-jones/66-facts-you-may-not-have_b_5508623.html

https://www.bloomsbury-international.com/blog/2014/07/11/15-interesting-facts-about-the-english-language/

https://www.lingoda.com/blog/fun-facts-english-language

http://www.kickassfacts.com/25-interesting-facts-about-english-language/

https://www.english.com/blog/fascinating-facts-about-english

https://mseffie.com/handouts/wordfacts.html

5 STEPS TO BUILDING RAPPORT WITH YOUR STUDENT

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Meeting new people from different countries is one of the joys of ESL teaching. Of course, to conduct great lessons you must learn how to connect with them. Here are 5 simple steps to help you build rapport with your students.

 

  1. Adjust your expectations

The first step is to remember that every student and culture is different. There is a big chance that your Japanese student will act and react differently from your Russian one. Try to learn about your student’s culture and personality and adjust your style accordingly.

 

  1. Start by sharing a few things about yourself

Lead by example. Try to connect to your student by sharing a little bit about yourself first. This may help them feel more comfortable with sharing things with you and may prompt them to ask questions of their own. However, you must not forget to keep things professional.

 

  1. Learn your student’s interests

This is related to step 2. After you’ve done you share, try to ask the students about their interests and find something you have in common. People love talking about things they like and will encourage them to talk more.

 

  1. Smile and enjoy the class

Focus on the lesson, but try to still enjoy it. Show your genuineness about your friendliness and desire to help the student instead of trying too hard. Remember students love teachers who are passionate about their job.

 

  1. Don’t give up

There are students whom you’ll find to be more difficult to connect with than most, but don’t give up. Sometimes, building rapport can take time. Just do your best to remain positive in your interactions and your students will thank you in the end for it.

 

References:

https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/building-rapport-in-the-ESL-classroom

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MOTIVATE YOUR STUDENTS

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While teaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there, the act itself is not exactly a piece of cake. Students differ from each other and your preferred teaching style or method may not work for everyone.

One of the most challenging things an instructor may face in his/her career is the unmotivated student. But how exactly do you help someone who’s not interested? Here are some tips:

 

Tip# 1: Reach out through culture and language

Get your student to interact more by showing genuine interest in their culture. Do some research about the different customs, events and latest news about the student’s country, then talk about them during the class. Learn phrases in their language or better yet, ask them to teach you how to say phrases like ‘Good job!’ themselves.

 

Tip# 2: Be considerate in giving corrections

While it’s normal to give corrections during the lesson, you have to make sure not to overdo it by interrupting them every 5 seconds. This will disrupt the student’s ideas and make them feel frustrated or even attacked.

 

Tip# 3: Let your students set short-term goals

The setting of short-term learning goals could be a good idea for students. This will help them focus on realistic targets and prevent them from getting frustrated if they can’t master everything as quickly or as easily as they expected.

 

Tip# 4: Connect your class to the student’s interests

Try to connect English learning to the student’s interests outside of the lessons. Ask them to read books, watch movies or listen to music and make activities out of them. For example, for one lesson, you can ask the student to show you his favorite book and tell you what it is about.

 

Tip# 5: Use games to appeal to their competitive sides

Most people love winning and playing games is still one of the most popular activities when it comes to making the class more lively or encouraging the students to participate more. Use games that will call to their natural competitiveness.

 

References:

http://www.tesol.org/read-and-publish/journals/other-serial-publications/compleat-links/compleat-links-volume-5-issue-2-(june-2008)/motivating-language-learners-to-succeed

http://mastersinesl.com/tips-for-motivating-esl-learners/

8 FUN FACTS ABOUT JAPAN

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Whether you’re planning to visit Japan or simply interested in the country, it’s always fun to discover new and fascinating facts about the land of the rising sun. Here, we’ve collected some fun facts for your reading enjoyment:

  1. Twenty-one percent of the Japanese population is elderly (over the age of 65), the highest proportion in the world. There are more elderly than there are children in Japan today.
  2. Japan has the second lowest homicide rate in the world, but it is also home to the spooky “suicide forest” Aokigahara at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is the second most popular place in the world for suicides after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
  3. Yaeba, or crooked teeth, are considered attractive in Japan—so much so that girls go to the dentist to have their teeth purposefully unstraightened.
  4. In Japan, there is an island full of rabbits called Ōkunoshima. They were brought there during World War II to test the effects of poison gas.
  5. It is appropriate to slurp noodles, especially soba (buckwheat) when eating in Japan. Slurping indicates the dish is delicious. It also cools down the hot noodles.
  6. The Japanese have more pets than children.
  7. The imperial family of Japan descends from an unbroken lineage of nearly 2,000 years. No other royal family in history has held its position for so long. The first Japanese emperor, Jimmu Tennō, ruled about the time of Christ.
  8. On average there are around 1,500 earthquakes every year in Japan.

 

Sources:

https://www.factretriever.com/japan-facts

http://facts-about-japan.com/interesting.html

5 WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR TTT IN CLASS

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TTT or Teacher Talk Time refers to the amount of time during class that a teacher consumes by talking. Not all TTT is negative. After all, students will have to hear the proper way of pronouncing words and hear explanations about the lesson. Still, in ESL lessons where the speaking practice is a crucial part in helping the student improve their skills, reducing the teacher’s TTT can be a big help. The target here is to make sure that you don’t do more than 50% of the talking in class. The most commonly recommended ratio is 30:70, but this will still depend on the type of student you have.

 

  1. Ask more open-ended questions

Encourage the student to go beyond ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Asking questions such as, ‘what?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ will elicit longer responses and explanation from your students, whether you’re having a free conversation or checking their comprehension of a topic.

 

  1. Give simple, short and concise instructions

Provide instructions that can go straight to the point. Simplify your instructions but make it clear enough, so that you won’t need to repeat it over and over.

 

  1. Stop echoing your student

Aside from making you talk more, echoing doesn’t really have much purpose and can even distract your student from their thoughts. Instead, keep yourself silent for a few seconds and allow the student enough time to think and respond.

 

  1. Plan your lessons

Prepare for your lessons well and you find yourself having fewer gaps to fill with talking. Even if you don’t follow it completely, you’ll at least know what you can do next instead trying to buy some thinking time by talking.

 

  1. Consider your student’s skill level

This is always an important thing to consider. In asking questions or trying to converse with a student, make sure to check if the questions you’re asking or the instructions you’re giving are appropriate enough for your student’s level for them to respond.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.fluentu.com/english/educator/blog/esl-teaching-techniques-ttt/

http://eslteachingideas.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-reduce-teacher-talk-time.html

 

ONLINE ICE-BREAKER IDEAS FOR TEACHERS

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Many teachers constantly look for ways to keep their lessons fun and engaging for their students. One of the best ways to do this is to set the mood for the lesson at the very beginning. This could mean warm-up activities and ice-breakers. Below is a list of ice-breaker ideas that teachers can use for online lessons:

 

  1. 2 truths and a lie

Here, each person will list 3 things about themselves. Two are true and one is a lie. The other person must guess which statement is a lie and explain why they think so.

 

  1. Would you rather..?

For this game, you can make your list of questions or make them up as you go along. You and the student will take turns asking ‘Would you rather..?’ questions e.g. “Would you rather eat worms or cockroaches?” and explain the reason for each of your choice.

 

  1. Never Have I Ever

Each person will take turns saying something they have never done before. Each player starts with ten fingers showing. Each time says something that you’ve done, you drop a finger. The goal is to be the last player remaining.

 

  1. Lost on a Deserted Island

Given the scenario that everyone is lost and stranded on a deserted island, each person describes one object that they would bring and why.

 

Sources:

http://joitskehulsebosch.blogspot.com/2009/03/10-online-icebreakers.html

http://www.bridgetefl.com/top-five-icebreakers-for-the-efl-classroom/

http://www.icebreakers.ws/get-to-know-you/never-have-i-ever.html

http://www.icebreakers.ws/team-building/lost-on-a-deserted-island.html

 

7 RESUME ERRORS YOU MUST AVOID AT ALL COSTS

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A resume is one of the most important tools for acquiring your dream job. No matter how well-experienced you are, a poorly made resume will still hinder you in getting even an interview. Today, we’ve made a list of 7 resume errors you must avoid.

 

  1. Grammar and spelling errors

There’s no real excuse for committing this one. Many spelling and grammar checkers are available for free use online and even if you don’t have access to the internet, you can always check it over yourself or have someone else do it for you.

 

  1. Generic content

One common mistake of applicants is using a one size fits all type of resume. If you really want to be noticed by employers, it will be better to customize your resume according to the job description, needs, and requirements of the job you’re aiming for. Read their job advertisement and try to use to use their keywords.

 

  1. Outdated and incorrect information

Before sending out applications, it is important to check if all information included in your resume are updated and correct, particularly your employment summary and contact information. However, make sure that you don’t use an unprofessional email address such as CuteChixrule@google.com.

 

  1. Not emphasizing accomplishments

When listing down your employment history, some people fail to highlight their accomplishments. Emphasizing your accomplishments will help you make the impression of being a good candidate.

 

  1. Vague job description in employment summary

When making a list of your employment history, make sure to make a short but concise job description. This will help your prospective employer get an idea if your experiences and skills will fit their requirements. Also, don’t forget to include the date and duration of your stay in each of the companies.

 

  1. Overdone resume design and style

Resumes must always appear professional and well-organized. Using different font styles, sizes and colors will just make your prospective employer’s head hurt. Unless you’re applying for a position that requires you to exhibit your creativity, keep your resume simple and easy to read.

 

  1. Including unnecessary details

Generally, a resume should only be one to two pages long, depending if you’re a recent graduate or an experienced applicant. To do this, make sure to avoid including unnecessary details such as irrelevant work experiences, skills, hobbies, personal information such as your height, weight, religion, tax identification number, social security number etc. Remember, these will not only consume space but can also lead to discrimination or identity theft.

 

References:

https://www.thebalance.com/top-resume-mistakes-to-avoid-2063291

https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/avoid-the-top-10-resume-mistakes

SOCIAL HIERARCHY OF FEUDAL ERA JAPAN

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Japan undeniably has a rich culture and history. The country has undergone many changes over time, and this included their social hierarchy. Different from today, during the Feudal era Japan, the country’s social classes were distributed into the following tiers:

 

  1. The Royal Class

At the very top is the Royal Class, which includes the emperor and his family. However, while placed at the top, the emperor and his family actually did not hold much power over the nation, as the main governing power at the time rested with the military force. As such, the emperor served as more of a figurehead and held symbolic religious influence over the Japanese people.

 

  1. The Noble Class

The Noble Class is also the military class who, while below the Royal Class actually ran the country, which made them powerful figures. The Noble Class included the Shogun, the Daimyos, the Samurais and the Ronins.

 

  • Shogun – The shogun held the highest position within this class. He is both the military and political leader and therefore held the most power.
  • Daimyos-The daimyos or feudal warlords are ranked just below and directly reports to the Shogun. They also had complete military and economic power.
  • Samurai– Samurais who are also known as bushi were the warriors of the feudal era. They are hired by daimyos for protection and are very loyal to their leaders. Less than ten percent of the people of this era belonged to this subclass.
  • Ronins– When a daimyo dies or is defeated in battle, the samurais under him then become ronins. In other words, they are simply samurais who did not belong to any master and who worked for different employers. They are at the bottom of the Noble Class.

 

  1. The Lower Class

The Lower Class of feudal Japan consisted around ninety percent of the overall population. This class included the Peasants, Artisans, Merchants, the Ainu, the Etas, the Hinin and the Prostitutes.

 

  • Peasants– The farmers or peasants worked in agriculture and although poor, were held in high esteem due to producing food which the other classes depended on.
  • Artisans – They are also known as Craftsmen and worked with wood and metal.
  • Merchants– These were traders and shopkeepers. Contrary to modern times, they were not highly regarded as they were seen as people who profited from the work of the Peasant and Artisan classes.
  • Ainus– These were the descendants of freed slaves.
  • Etas– This subclass included the executioners, butchers and tanners.
  • Hinin– This referred to convicted criminals and wandering bards.
  • Prostitutes – The Prostitutes made up the lowest tier in the feudal era social classes of Japan.

 

Sources:

http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-civilizations/feudal-japan/feudal-japan-hierarchy/

http://www.hierarchystructure.com/feudal-japan-social-hierarchy/

https://www.thoughtco.com/four-tiered-class-system-feudal-japan-195582