Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Don't forget the Lesson Blog...

Just a reminder that the Park Language Lesson Blog is currently tracking the A2 year, and there is an archive of last year's AS course in its entirety:


That's the link to the first post, and if you click lower left you can march forward through the year.

This will make great revision for A2 students, especially those resitting the AS modules.

For A Level students, the concepts are the same and you might like the explanations there as a second way through the material we're covering. The sequence is slightly different, and crucially anything exam-specific will not apply to you, but it's still basically the same subject! Have a browse and see what's there.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Passive Form

Okay, cringey video, but some good advice and interactive practice to help get to grips with the passive form. It's very easy in fact -- it's just a verb form! -- as long as you don't try to make sense of it through the everyday meaning of the word 'passive', or try to take short-cuts in identifying it.

The page here helpfully discusses alternatives that might serve similar purposes, too.


Simple, Compound, Complex and Minor sentences

Really clear explanation here, in the context of considering your own essay writing.

Missing is the fact that sentences can be compound and complex at the same time, or multiply compound and complex -- with many clauses coordinated or subordinated. It also disregards the 'minor sentence' -- that is, a word, phrase or fragment on its own, marked out as a sentence but with less than a full clause.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Sounds Familiar...?

I found to my surprise that I hadn't posted a direct link to this fabulous resource from the British Library. The Sounds Familiar archive collects accent and dialect variation across the UK, with interactive maps, recordings, transcripts, collections of lexical variation and more.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Short TED Talks

You can search TED talks by length -- and the 0-6 minute talks are about the word count (600-750 words) that you're asked to produce for your Task 1 presentations.

Each talk has an interactive transcript, so you can see how the talk looks on the page (and click the transcript to hear how it sounds when delivered). You can also check the word count for a given speech. Around 5 minutes is approximately right -- but much depends on the pace of the speaker.

Loads of subjects covered here -- watch several! Pick up tips and good ideas on how to present!


Friday, 3 July 2015

EngLangBlog: New AQA A level resources

The EngLangBlog, kept by Dan Clayton, is a great site for links and discussion of English Language issues -- and will also play host to some materials specifically for the New 2015 English Language specification.

EngLangBlog: New AQA A level resources

Monday, 11 May 2015

Aitchison: The Language Web

Superb revision material for A2s. Jean Aitchison covers language change as well as child language development in this series of radio shows which you can get at the BBC on iPlayer. They also have transcripts to read if you prefer:


Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Neat Summary of Linguistics

Useful summary, at undergraduate level, of issues and descriptions addressed in the study of language. Pretty good revision reading, perhaps especially for A2s…

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Dialects of American English

A useful and clear guide to a range of American dialects, and the history and development of American English.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Maps of English Diversity and Change

Nicely timed for A2s beginning study of English language diversity, here are a range of revealing maps that illustrate how English has formed, grown, travelled, varied, borrowed, divided, infiltrated and adapted through its history. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

History of English in Ten Minutes

For 'flipped learning' for A2s over the weekend.

Watch and take notes, ready to re-tell the story to each other on the first lesson next week.

There will be a test!


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

English Spelling and Learning

This article argues that the English spelling system makes it harder for kids to learn. There are comparisons with systems in other countries -- but notably little about non-phonetic, logogram-based systems like Chinese (where symbols for words or concepts need to be learned, quite separate from their pronunciation). It leads towards an interesting revision and simplification of the spelling system on phonemic principles -- which looks like it'd be a disaster practically, but understanding its core ideas is certainly good for your grasp of phonology.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Classic Style in writing

This is probably the cleanest Intro to writing in 'classic style' that's out there.

The idea is that when you write, you imagine a scene of 'joint attention' -- where the reader is an equal to you, and 'sees' what you 'see' (even if this is abstract or linguistic); your job is to point out elements of interest and pass on context, motivations and observed details which your partner may not otherwise have noticed, or may not perhaps mark the significance of, in the expectation that they will understand and agree, but without the presumption of anything that's necessary for what you want to point out.

That's to say that classic style isn't patronising, but is explicit; it isn't ostentatiously technical and academic, but it is accurate; it isn't just stating the obvious, but it is thorough; it isn't handwaving and casual, but it is concise.

These qualities make it a good style for essays and exams. Caveats: in an exam, you should think with your pen, rather than plan silently in your head and then attempt to commit a perfect performance to paper of only the conclusions you're certain about. Tentative alternative readings are welcome and gain marks -- this is exploration and evaluation at work. Classic style aims for a polished and confident statement of the simple truth; and in English, often ambiguity is inescapable, and polishing is a task for coursework.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Forensic Linguistics

A long read, and some graphic details, but an excellent account of the work of forensic linguists with a number of striking example cases. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Internet language

Not a bad article, here, though it's not watertight -- no mention of creative emoticons of the type used in the headline, for instance -- and could do with a clearer model of language functions: it tantalisingly refers to 'interpersonal' communication, but this is just an empty premodifier, I think -- rather than, accurately, noting that most of the forms mentioned really do focus on managing the tenor of Internet discourse, showing feelings and managing human speech roles in the absence of tone, expression and gesture. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

The definite article in decline...

Interesting, if somewhat dubious, research. The example given from the political speeches is inconclusive -- Obama is taking quite a different sort of opening tack from Washington. Perhaps it is broad rhetorical approaches that are changing; there's nothing inherently 'formal' about 'the', though it'd be informal to use a lot of ellipsis, which might include eliding the definite article. (For instance, if I'd started sentence two of his post 'Example give from political speeches...')

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Lesson Blog for AS and more...

Don't forget about the existence of the Park Language Lesson Blog, which is presently tracking AS lessons, and has archives of A2 Language Diversity and Child Language Acquisition lessons from previous years.

Invaluable for revision for A2s especially, and crucial to follow for current AS students -- just put your email in the box in the upper right corner (they may send you a confirmation email, so check your inbox!) and you'll have a summary of each topic winging its way to you a couple of days after the lesson -- I usually update on Mondays and/or Thursdays.