TED talks

A number of people have been urging me to Google TED talks for 12-minute lectures.

I’ve at last done this and a world of new thinking has opened up. I’ve heard talks by Sugata Mitra, Ken Robinson and John McWhorter. Not least of the gifts of the lecturers is that they are often very funny. The antique rubbish that passes for discussion on public education at present in this country is cleared away and a sense of reality takes its place.

I treat myself to one a day and suggest anyone reading this does the same.



Analysis of Science GCSE paper

During the snowy weather, cooped up in the flat, I had a happy time applying the linguistic insights of BtL to a GCSE exam paper in Science.  I went through questions and answers highlighting in green the frequent occurrences of the passive, nominalizations in yellow and I added special technical words that are not part of non-scientific vocabulary in pink (e.g. ethane, ethanol, fermentation) – there were a lot of these and it is an obvious feature of scientific language. Continue reading

Language and Gender 3

Daniel L. Maltz and Ruth A. Barker: A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication (in Language and Gender ed. Jennifer Coates)

This paper surveys work by scholars in a number of fields whose findings and frameworks can be used to throw light on problems in cross-sex informal conversations. The model is first taken from the approach to difficulties in cross-ethnic communication.

Sociologists have shown that, even though children in America (and UK) go to mixed sex schools, it is customary for girls to play with girls and boys with boys. Each sex therefore grows up with separate views on the purpose of conversation – girls (as we saw in my last blog) for creating supportive relationships and boys for control and problem solving. The authors refer to fascinating research into the differences between girls’ games and boys’ games. Continue reading