Teaching Tips 175
On the 26th September it's the 10th anniversary of European Day of Languages celebrated at the Council of Europe and throughout its 47 member states. This is an opportunity for you & your students to look at the theme of languages & how best to go about learning a language. This could be a one-off lesson or carry on over a series of lessons.
The European Day of Languages website:
Here are a couple of ideas - it doesn't matter if you're not located within Europe to dedicate time to this:
There are two texts below taken from the Day of Languages web site. The first shorter text is a general introduction to the Day & could be simply read out or used as the basis of a running dictation or a dictogloss/high speed dictation
The second text is a question & answer matching task which takes the students further into the Day's celebrations. Use as it stands, cut up the parts & give one to each student to find their partner, predict the questions from the answers before matching, predict the answers from the questions before matching, give out a chart & in groups of seven each has an answer & a chart with the questions & they mingle & get a summary of each answer which they write in their charts etc...
used to introduce the theme - through, for example, a running
dictation or a dictogloss activity.
European Year of Languages involves millions of people
across 45 countries in activities to celebrate linguistic
diversity and the benefits of being able to speak
Many people young and old are encouraged to take up
a language, or take special pride in their existing
Those responsible for providing access to language
learning are encouraged to make it easier for people
to learn a range of languages, and to support policy
initiatives to promote languages.
The Council of Europe has declared 26 September an
annual European Day of Languages.
text for the matching task
European Day of Languages: frequently asked questions
- match up the questions & the answers.
How can we celebrate `lifelong language learning'?
Why do we need a European Day of Languages?
What are the aims of the European Day of Languages?
How can we celebrate the European Day of Languages?
Who is responsible for organising the European Day of
Will the Day have its own logo?
What support is available?
It has been recommended that the Day should be celebrated
in a decentralised and flexible way. There are no organisational
guidelines at international level, though there are national
"relays" / contact persons in most countries.
The details of the "relays" are available on
To alert the public to the importance of language learning
To increase awareness and appreciation of ALL the languages
spoken in Europe
To encourage lifelong language learning
The Council of Europe web site offers examples, suggestions
and a data base to which you can add your events. A poster
was produced and made available in electronic form to
national authorities and possible partners for adaptation
to national, regional or local needs downloadable from
this website. Support at national level will vary according
to the priorities and resources of each country but financial
support will no longer be available in 2003.
While many people agree that everyone should be able to
speak another language, in many countries only about half
can do so.
There have never been more opportunities to work or study
in a different European country - but lack of language
competence prevents many people from taking advantage
Globalisation and patterns of business ownership mean
that citizens increasingly need foreign language skills
to work effectively within their own countries.
Europe is rich in languages - there are over 200 European
languages and many more spoken by citizens whose family
origin is from other continents. This is an important
resource to be recognised, used and cherished.
Language learning brings benefits to young and old - you
are never too old to learn a language and to enjoy the
opportunities it opens up.
Learning other peoples' languages is a way of helping
us to understand each other better and overcome our cultural
The logo for the Day is the same as that used for the
European Year of Languages. It can be obtained from the
address below and is downloadable from the website. Organisers
of events can use the image alone, or add the words `European
Day of Languages', as they wish, provided the objectives
are in keeping with those of the Day.
Lifelong language learning means language learning at
all stages of life both within and outside of the education
system. We can always improve our skills or take up a
It could be celebrated in schools, in workplaces or in
any public place, with activities involving old and young;
this can involve ALL languages, whether learnt in childhood
or taken up at a later age.
- Language facts at the site:
Print off for discussion. You could add/omit info & make it into a true/false quiz.
- Language quiz at the site: http://edl.ecml.at/LanguageFun/LanguageQuiz/tabid/1873/language/
- Language treasures - 'Favourite word - The idea of the 'language treasures' database is to compile a list of words from different languages which no translation can do justice to.
In 2008 the Portuguese word 'Saudade' was submitted more often than any other word to the database. It (roughly!) expresses a feeling of missing and longing for something or someone.'
The section hasn't really developed much but you could use the idea in class, asking your students for words from their own language which can't really be translated. A word in Spanish that is very apt & doesn't quite sound the same in another language is the word 'rematar' for finishing something off & I'm told it comes from the last stage of the bullfight when the bull is killed.
- For the younger learner, posters about the day or the same words in a variety of languages offer ways of playing around with the day & the different languages.
- If you have a multilingual class, get them to teach each other something in their native languages. An ideal way of celebrating the Day.
- A discussion on linguistic variety could begin with the paragraph from the variety article on the site; 'Our planet has over six billion people who speak between 6000 and 7000 different languages. A few languages are spoken by hundreds of millions of speakers, such as English or Chinese, but most are spoken by only a few thousand, or just a handful of speakers. In fact, 96% of the world's languages are spoken by just 4% of the people.' This could lead on to discussion points about the dominance of English, the need to keep alive the lesser spoken languages etc...
- Self-evaluate Your Skills - an assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). A really nice short test that provides awareness of CEFR & their own language levels. After students go on to discuss what areas they individually need to concentrate on & how best to go about it. http://edl.ecml.at/LanguageFun/Selfevaluateyourlanguageskills/tabid/2194/
The CEFR website:
European Language Portfolio site:
The Welcome page says:
- The European Language Portfolio was developed and piloted by the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, from 1998 until 2000. It was launched on a pan-European level during the European Year of Languages as a tool to support the development of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism.
And the Introduction page goes on:
It is a document in which those who are learning or have learned a language - whether at school or outside school - can record and reflect on their language learning and cultural experiences.
The portfolio contains a language passport which its owner regularly updates. A grid is provided where his/her language competences can be described according to common criteria accepted throughout Europe and which can serve as a complement to customary certificates. The document also contains a detailed language biography describing the owner's experiences in each language and which is designed to guide the learner in planning and assessing progress. Finally, there is a dossier where examples of personal work can be kept to illustrate one's language competences.
Then on the Levels page there are the six global levels:
||Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.
||Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
||Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
||Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
||Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
||Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
And on the Levels page there are some links at the bottom to documents in most European languages; the levels as above, a detailed self assessment grid that contains a detailed description of the different skills at the six levels, & finally there is a pdf Checklist.
Give your students a copy of the self assessment grid & get them to work out where they are, compare with each other & discuss how they could improve on the weaker areas.
The self assessment grid can be downloaded at:
This last link, the Checklist, in English or French, provides you with a detailed questionnaire for students to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses & needs. This can be used at the beginning of a course, & reviewed in the middle & at the end of the course. An excellent tool for both the learner & the teacher. If you already have your own self assessment checklist, download this as well to see if you can improve your own. It is quite a long document but well worth using. If you feel it is too long, adapt it to suit.
The self-assessment Checklist document can be downloaded at:
- Very much connected is the Europass website - http://www.europass.cedefop.eu.int/ They say:
Whether you are planning to enrol in an education or training programme, looking for a job, or getting experience abroad, it is important to be able to make your skills and competences clearly understood.
Here your students can make an online CV that they can complete & then download in various formats, or download the tools to complete on their computer. All excellent material.
An interesting article connected to this which might be useful
for the more advanced group, used as a jigsaw reading with each
student given one of the language profiles to read & explain, the
communicative purpose to discuss which ones might be the most
deserving to save (not that they all are!):
Peter K Austin's top 10 endangered languages
The linguistics professor and author shares a personal selection
from the thousands of languages on the brink of disappearing
* Wednesday August 27 2008
Peter K Austin has published 11 books on minority and endangered
languages, including 12 Australian Aboriginal languages, and
holds the Märit Rausing Chair in field linguistics at the School
of Oriental and African Studies where he is also director of the
Endangered Languages Academic Programme. His most recent book is
1000 Languages: The Worldwide History of Living and Lost Tongues,
which explores the state of languages around the world.
There are more than 6,900 languages used around the world today,
ranging in size from those with hundreds of millions of speakers
to those with only one or two. Language experts now estimate that
as many as half of the existing languages are endangered, and by
the year 2050 they will be extinct. The major reason for this
language loss is that communities are switching to larger
politically and economically more powerful languages, like
English, Spanish, Hindi or Swahili.
Each language expresses the history, culture, society and
identity of the people who speak it, and each is a unique way of
talking about the world. The loss of any language is a loss to
both the community who use it in their daily lives, and to
humankind in general. The songs, stories, words, expressions and
grammatical structures of languages developed over countless
generations are part of the intangible heritage of all humanity.
So how to choose a top 10 from more than 3,000 endangered
languages? My selection is a personal one that tries to take into
account four factors: (1) geographical coverage - if possible I
wanted at least one language from each continent; (2) scientific
interest - I wanted to include languages that linguists find
interesting and important, because of their structural or
historical significance; (3) cultural interest - if possible some
information about interesting cultural and political aspects of
endangered languages should be included; and (4) social impact -
I wanted to include one or more situations showing why languages
are endangered, as well as highlighting some of the ways
communities are responding to the threat they currently face.
Jeru (or Great Andamanese) is spoken by fewer than 20 people on
the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is generally believed
that Andamanese languages might be the last surviving languages
whose history goes back to pre-Neolithic times in Southeast Asia
and possibly the first settlement of the region by modern humans
moving out of Africa. The languages of the Andamans cannot be
shown to be related to any other languages spoken on earth.
2. N|u (also called Khomani)
This is a Khoisan language spoken by fewer than 10 elderly people
whose traditional lands are located in the Kalahari Gemsbok
National Park in South Africa. The Khoisan languages are
remarkable for having click sounds – the | symbol is pronounced
like the English interjection tsk! tsk! used to express pity or
shame.The closest relative of N|u is !Xóõ (also called Ta'a and
spoken by about 4,000 people) which has the most sounds of any
language on earth: 74 consonants, 31 vowels, and four tones
The Ainu language is spoken by a small number of old people on
the island of Hokkaido in the far north of Japan. They are the
original inhabitants of Japan, but were not recognised as a
minority group by the Japanese government until this year. The
language has very complicated verbs that incorporate a whole
sentence's worth of meanings, and it is the vehicle of an
extensive oral literature of folk stories and songs. Moves are
underway to revive Ainu language and cultural practices.
Sun Moon Lake of central Taiwan is the home of the Thao language,
now spoken by a handful of old people while the remainder of the
community speaks Taiwanese Chinese (Minnan). Thao is an
Austronesian language related to languages spoken in the
Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific, and represents one of the
original communities of the Austronesians before they sailed
south and east over 3,000 years ago.
Yuchi is spoken in Oklahoma, USA, by just five people all aged
over 75. Yuchi is an isolate language (that is, it cannot be
shown to be related to any other language spoken on earth). Their
own name for themselves is Tsoyaha, meaning "Children of the
Sun". Yuchi nouns have 10 genders, indicated by word endings: six
for Yuchi people (depending on kinship relations to the person
speaking), one for non-Yuchis and animals, and three for
inanimate objects (horizontal, vertical, and round). Efforts are
now under way to document the language with sound and video
recordings, and to revitalise it by teaching it to children.
6. Oro Win
The Oro Win live in western Rondonia State, Brazil, and were
first contacted by outsiders in 1963 on the headwaters of the
Pacaas Novos River. The group was almost exterminated after two
attacks by outsiders and today numbers just 50 people, only five
of whom still speak the language. Oro Win is one of only five
languages known to make regular use of a sound that linguists
call "a voiceless dental bilabially trilled affricate". In rather
plainer language, this means it's produced with the tip of the
tongue placed between the lips which are then vibrated (in a
similar way to the brrr sound we make in English to signal that
the weather is cold).
The Kusunda are a former group of hunter-gatherers from western
Nepal who have intermarried with their settled neighbours. Until
recently it was thought that the language was extinct but in 2004
scholars at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu located eight
people who still speak the language. Another isolate, with no
connections to other languages.
8. Ter Sami
This is the easternmost of the Saami group of languages (formerly
called Lapp, a derogatory term), located on the Kola Peninsula in
Russia. It is spoken by just 10 elderly people among
approximately 100 ethnic Ter Sami who all now speak Russian as
their daily language. Ter Sami is related to Finnish and other
Uralic languages spoken in Russia and Siberia, and distantly to
9. Guugu Yimidhirr
Guugu Yimidhirr is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken at
Hopevale near Cooktown in northern Queensland by around 200
people. A wordlist was collected by Captain James Cook in 1770
and it has given English (and the rest of the world's languages)
the word kangaroo. Guugu Yimidhirr (like some other Aboriginal
languages) is remarkable for having a special way of speaking to
certain family members (like a man's father-in-law or
brother-in-law) in which everyday words are replaced by
completely different special vocabulary. For example, instead of
saying bama dhaday for "the man is going" you must say yambaal
bali when speaking to these relatives as a mark of respect and
Ket is the last surviving member of a family of languages spoken
along the Yenesei River in eastern Siberia. Today there are
around 600 speakers but no children are learning it since parents
prefer to speak to them in Russian. Ket is the only Siberian
language with a tone system where the pitch of the voice can give
what sound like identical words quite different meanings. (Much
like Chinese or Yoruba). To add to the difficulty for any
westerner wishing to learn it, it also has extremely complicated
word structure and grammar.
Wikipedia's page on endangered languages.
On 29th September it's the anniversary of the formation of Scotland Yard. At the link below there's a lot of material for classroom use; history, gallery, famous cases etc.. Adapt & exploit.
Stories from Scotland Yard:
The Peelers - the world's first police force:
Mystery Cube - for planning their own mystery stories or summarising key aspects of a story after reading:
INTERNATIONAL TOURISM DAY
It's International Tourism Day on the 27th September & to
coincide it might be an idea to get out those ubiquitous tourist
development roleplays. It usually centred around an unspoilt
island that would be ideal as a tourist resort. The roles involve
those for & against the development. For example;
Mayor - you are in favour of developing the island as all would
benefit from the tourists. Think of a few examples to use in the
Representative of the environmental protection group - you think
it would be a disaster. Tourists would destroy the wildlife & the
natural parks on the island. Think of a few examples to use in
Villager - you are for the developments as you feel it would
provide employment for the younger people so they wouldn't have
to leave the island in search of work. Think of a few examples to
use in the discussion.
Villager - you think it wouldn't be a good idea as tourism would
destroy the traditional lifestyle of the island, affecting the
community as a whole. You are worried about the local language
dying out. Think of a few examples to use in the discussion.
Developer - you want to develop certain areas. Think of a few
arguments & examples to use in the discussion.
More roles can easily be added to suit.
Some lesson plans around the theme of tourism:
Life's a beach and it's on your doorstep:
'Holidays of a lifetime for under £500':
20 dream holidays for the 21st century:
Down and dirty:
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I recently came across a short introduction to the origins of writing on the BBC News Magazine site:
Check it out & possibly use it with your upper intermediate & above students.
Even with the interest in the writing skill & books on how to develop it coming out over the last fifteen years, it does still seem to be the forgotten skill.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
1. Talk to the students about the importance of the skill - how it is important for consolidating language as well as developing the writing skill in itself so that they become rounded & skilled English language users.
2. Talk to them about process writing & incorporate it into your lessons.
See the articles below & the past Tip - Product, process or genre?
3. If you feel in need of finding out more about the skill, read the articles listed below & check out these writing books:
Writing - Patricia Hedge (OUP)
How to Teach Writing - Jeremy Harmer
Process Writing - Ronald V. White & Valerie Arndt (Longman)
Writing Extra: A Resource Book of Multi-Level Skills Activities -
Graham Palmer (CUP)
4. Help your students with the difficulties of the skill by making writing tasks manageable. It is a challenging skill so be very supportive of their efforts & try to make it fun.
5. Include writing development within the syllabus & integrate tasks into your timetables.
6. Choose genres that they might use in the future outside of the classroom, eg. emails. informal letters,...
7. Spend time on the skill during classes, rather than leaving it for homework.
8. Encourage students at more advanced levels to work towards the Cambridge FCE & CAE exams as these require proficiency in the writing skills.
9. Set up learner diary projects. See the past Tip - Learning from their diaries
Here are lots of other ideas & articles about the writing skill on the site:
Six Word Summaries - quick fun writing
Product, process or genre?
Writing for beginners
Keeping to the limit
A short review of three articles concerning the teaching of L2 writing across cultural contexts by Damian Rivers
Models and samples as a resource for writing by Greg Gobel
A Process Approach to Writing by Adam Simpson
Teaching Academic Writing by Kendall Peet
Discourse in Writing by Emma Worrall
A Process Genre Approach to Writing Transactional Letters by James Frith
Peer Editing, a GOOD Idea? by Zainab Al Balushy
Giving Feedback On Students' Written Work - seminar notes - by Seamus O'Muircheartaigh
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As a Brit I quite like the Americanisms that travel across the ocean to become staple fair of our language. Language is dynamic, always changing & there is little we can do to turn the tide even if we wanted to.
I do find the death of the word 'awesome' a little sad. For me use of this word means something very significant such as landing on the moon or if I had seen the water being turned into wine then I would have been exclaiming 'Awesome!'. Everything is now 'awesome'. A response to the statement 'I'm going to have a cup of tea.' could easily elicit the response 'Awesome'. When watching less experienced teachers, a way of praising utterances is commonly now 'awesome'. It has become the new 'nice', meaning very little. Initially it might have had something to do with people wanting their lives to be more interesting, the more 'awesome', the more worthy & interesting, now used so much that it ceases to have any real meaning other than a positive signal. Apparently 'awesome' was a hip buzzword in 1961 according to a past Tip - Get hip to chav - http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips73.htm. On the other hand I rather like the use of 'so' as in 'That's so not right'.
Anyway here's a recent amusing article on the BBC site about examples of Brits becoming irritated with certain Americanisms:
Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples
20 July 11
The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples.
Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.
1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire
2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall
3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath
4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester
5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland
6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand
7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US
8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada
9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK
10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US
11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US
12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester
13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all "turn" 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as "turning" 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon
14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow
15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington
16. "I'm good" for "I'm well". That'll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales
17. "Bangs" for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham
18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester
19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? "That statement was the height of ridiculosity". Bob, Edinburgh
20. "A half hour" instead of "half an hour". EJB, Devon
21. A "heads up". For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a "heads up" on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough
22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London
23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to "alphabetize it" - horrid! Chris Fackrell, York
24. People that say "my bad" after a mistake. I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire
25. "Normalcy" instead of "normality" really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield
26. As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but "burglarize" is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans
27. "Oftentimes" just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I've not noticed it over here yet. John, London
28. Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)
29. I'm a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York
30. I hate "alternate" for "alternative". I don't like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it's useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London
31. "Hike" a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington
32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock
33. I hate the word "deliverable". Used by management consultants for something that they will "deliver" instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
34. The most annoying Americanism is "a million and a half" when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry
35. "Reach out to" when the correct word is "ask". For example: "I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient". Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can't we just ask him? Nerina, London
36. Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. Michael Zealey, London
37. I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green
38. My worst horror is expiration, as in "expiration date". Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London
39. My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish". This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. James, Somerset
40.I am increasingly hearing the phrase "that'll learn you" - when the English (and more correct) version was always "that'll teach you". What a ridiculous phrase! Tabitha, London
41. I really hate the phrase: "Where's it at?" This is not more efficient or informative than "where is it?" It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating. Adam, London
42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland
43. My pet hate is "winningest", used in the context "Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time". I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham
44. My brother now uses the term "season" for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh
45. Having an "issue" instead of a "problem". John, Leicester
46. I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! Ross, London
47. To "medal" instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset
48. "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free". You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? Mark Jones, Plymouth
49. "Turn that off already". Oh dear. Darren, Munich
50. "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham
More advanced learners would find a few of the the above an
'awesome' focus in a lesson.
All this throws up the problematic area of what one should correct in class. We as teachers become the arbiters of correctness by choosing what to correct. We might correct some of the above & the next day a student comes to you with examples of uses from the internet. What do you say?
One approach is to find out what target situations your students might find themselves in & train them for correct use within these situations. Fine with one-to-one & the smaller group but difficult with bigger groups. And then, anyway, students will change & expand who they interact with so it's not as easy as that.
We need to point out that we personally wouldn't use an expression but that it might be acceptable in such a context. This really means keeping up with these language changes which can be very difficult if you live abroad & have limited access to native English speakers. There is the internet but it's not the same.
And then you catch yourself saying something that you corrected in class!!
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