BtL and science (continued)

This is a continuation of last week’s blog giving the results of an application of the discourse structures in BtL to a Science  GCSE exam paper:


The crucial idea tested in this exam is the concept of variables.

The work on abstract language in BtL culminates in teaching the concept of variables (from Book 2, chapters 14 and 22; FT, chapters 18 and 19). Continue reading

BtL and Science at MMHS(continued)

The following is the first part of some work I did with the Science Department at MMHS:

How BtL feeds into Science teaching at MMHS

(based on an analysis of the language of an exam paper:

GCSE June 2013 Science A SCA4P/PU1.2)

 I have used the frameworks taught in Book 3 of BtL (Part 2 of F/T). For the purposes of this discussion General/Particular is the same as Abstract/Concrete. Continue reading

Btl and Science at MMHS

I have been busy for several weeks in following up a discussion that two of the  teachers at MMHS have embarked on: namely,  to explore how subject teachers can make a link between the work the learners do in BtL and their own specialist teaching. Two teachers – Science and Modern Languages – came down to Birmingham for the day to discuss this with me. I had already been working with one of the Science teachers, as I was concerned that the way BtL models the writing up of experiments is not what is required by at least one of the exam papers.

To try to make explicit what is going on in Science learning and teaching, I applied to two exam papers the discourse model (Michael Hoey’s) that is taught in Book 3 of BtL (Part 2 of the Fasttrack). It proved very powerful. Hoey offers three discourse structures which make sense of how academic (and other) discourse is constructed:

1. problem / solution     2. general / particular      3. compare / contrast Continue reading

Language and Gender 5

My friends and I have been reading two papers in Language and Gender*:

Deborah Tannen: Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers and Senta Troemel-Ploetz: Selling the Apolitical

 The first describes the differing expectations of men and women in informal conversation, illustrating the subject with samples of conversational analysis. The second is a ferocious critique of Tannen’s merely descriptive approach, on the grounds that it fails to politicize the subject. It does not join the feminist battle to gain equality by changing men’s behaviour. Continue reading

Language and Gender 4

I watched Kevin Costner’s1990 film Dancing with Wolves on DVD recently. Afterwards I looked up something about the film on Wikipedia and found an interesting comment on the language used in the film.

The film is unusual in that much of the dialogue is conducted in Lakota, a Native American language, with subtitles in English. One of the Native Americans viewing the film commented:

“The odd thing about making that movie is that they had a woman teaching the actors the Lakota language, but Lakota has a male-gendered language and a female-gendered language. Some of the Indians and Kevin Costner were speaking in the feminine way. When I went to see it with a bunch of Lakota guys, we were laughing.”

I had never heard of languages which have separate dialects for men and women, and they are indeed very rare. In one of the papers in the book my friends and I have been reading and discussing* there is an example of such a language surviving in Northern Australia as recently as 1998.

According to the description in this paper each lexical item has a different prefix according to the gender of the speaker. For example wukuthu means short. Men add no prefix but women put the prefix nya in front. Yirdi means he-bring, but men speak of na-yirdi and women of niwa-yirdi.

Unsurprisingly, the elders have to be strict in demanding that children learn to conform to these dialects and other tribes are reluctant to learn Yanyuwa because they make mistakes and get laughed at.



*John Bradley: Yanyuwa ‘Men speak one way, women another’, Aboriginal Linguistics 1 (1998), in Language and Gender ed. Jennifer Coates