Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussions--Series 1--EFL English as a Foreign Language

Please take a look at Post 68 and then come back here. Thank you.

Discussions—Series one
Topic 1
How can English with its very big linguistic tool kit affect our thinking processes?
Asgar Mahmoudi University Lecturer at Islamic Azad University (IAU)- دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی
Top Contributor

Thinking in English is a linguistic process the mind engages in where you put lexis and syntax appropriate to the thoughts to be conveyed. It's purely a structural process. Thinking process is a separate aspect of mind which looks at, analyses and comes to conclusions about ingrained and acquired beliefs and practices, habits, assumptions, prejudices, perceptions, attitudes and motivation.

When I want to say or write a piece in Thamizh, my regional language, I think in the Thamizh language, and when I want to say or write a piece in English, my mind automatically switches to the English language. The manner of expression (structuring the thoughts) will of course differ.

To put it simply, English/Western culture may influence how I think about my culture but English 'with its very big linguistic tool' cannot change how I think about my culture.
Lincoln Lambert likes this

In that case we are still asking "How long is that piece of string?"
It's long and knotted but I don't I don't know if that helps us. My ruler isn't long enough so we should measure one bit at a time.
 Asgar Mahmoudi likes this

... the subconscious, unlike the conscious mind, can stretch to infinity, so what does it matter how long that piece of string is? In fact, it's my contention that it's the subconscious which bears the burden of learning and balances it so beautifully and comes to your aid unbidden.

@ K R - What you are saying is the essence of complex systems' theory. According to this theory, people cannot learn very complex systems consciously but a level of learning can happen subconsciously.

Hi Asgar
 My contention is not a profound one, I don't know any complex system's theory, it comes from my personal experience and I hope others have similar experiences, too.

By the way you made me curious, can you give me some references to this theory so I can look it up. Thanks.

@ K R -
1. Dienes, Z. and Fahey, R. (1995). The role of specific instances in controlling a dynamic system. Journal of experimental psychology: learning, memory, and cognition

2. DeKeyser, R. (2003). Implicit and explicit learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long

Topic 2
How do you CORRECT" students without correcting them?
Amanda Jayne Schwarcz Language Instructor at The Open University of Israel
Top Contributor
Would love to hear from other teachers how they walk the fine line between over correcting and under correcting. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but would love to hear some new ideas

Top Contributor
Parameters for ‘over correcting’ and ‘under correcting’ will differ from individual to individual. Besides, HOW correction is carried out is more important than the correcting itself. Once you and your learners understand each other’s behavioural pattern, even harsh correction will be accepted without murmur or protest. Then there is no need to walk the ‘fine line’. I say this from my personal experience and those few teachers I had the privilege to work with.

Hi Amanda
I'm sorry, but I don’t see what steps you took to ‘over correct’. You probably mean telling them the correct structures repeatedly. But then if 'fluency’ is the goal, the use of ‘will’ in the conditional clause isn’t going to lead to confusion in the minds of listeners, is it?

You could probably audio/video record the dialogues, play them back, point out the errors by using the pause button and the correct expressions.

Accuracy is the next step forward from fluency. Even natives, in their childhood, start hesitatingly, move into fluency and land in accuracy as they listen and speak, speak and listen. L2 learners living in their own land and without the luxury L1 learners enjoy also start hesitatingly, move into fluency and probably stop there. But only some land in accuracy despite best efforts by teachers for the former are not determined enough to move to next stage. They don't read (they hardly read fiction, prose, poetry in their own language) nor do they listen to English through films or watching English channels. So drilling in my opinion may not yield the desired result (I mean permanence) for it becomes a routine and learners get bored with routine soon enough! L1 or L2, language learning is a subconscious activity, in my opinion. Mere conscious effort will only be a fleeting success.

Yes, the flow can get hurt. But what prevents you from audio/video record the conversations? 

Here you have the luxury of allowing them to complete what they want to say, then play the recording, pause where mistakes occur, get them to repeat the conversation or provide another similar situation where the same structure would be required (to avoid monotony), give them the CD which they can play at home as many times as they wish to get the structure right. If they are motivated enough, self correction can also take care of the problem.

You might find my post— Etiquette, word games, information—in my blog useful.

Hi Amanda
I can understand the tricky situation you're in. But then is it not possible to get permission from your students' superiors to record their conversations which in no way should prejudice or compromise their 'official' duties for the topics for the conversations are harmless in content?

Hi Amanda
'I have a few tricks up my sleeve...' you said. Don't get me wrong but I'm curious. Am I hearing 'yep' from others?
Zoe Harwood likes this

Me to
You must be a magician to be able to 'hide' your pad under the table, listen, bend down and write and continue to listen, jot down, listen, write down...
 Zoe HarwoodLincoln Lambert and 3 others like this

Peter Acroyd
@K R Lakshminarayanan Thanks for the wake up call. My apologies for the omission in my second post - the first one I accidentally deleted but seems still to be visible. I mentioned that I used the writing pad hidden [under the table] for SMALL classes where we sat round a single table and I could make notes as I sat listening to one student speak at a time. No magic I assure you! What was most satisfying was the way my [German] students pounced on the photocopies after the lessons.

Peter Acroyd
@ K R Lakshminarayanan Sorry - no magic - the "hidden pad note taking" just worked with a small class round one table - where I could sit and listen, hiding my writing pad under the ONE table. My apologies for the miscommunication. I tried making notes while wandering round a larger class with multiple groups - it didn't work for me - my writing was too wobbly and the notes didn't mean much or needed a great deal of expansion when they weren't contextualised for the whole class. Regards, ...

@KRL: I absolutely cracked up at your response to Peter, although he has since explained himself. I was trying to imagine the situation myself. Writing pads under the table, jotting down hidden notes, whilst juggling balls, singing a ballad, and listening to students. Ok ,I know I am exaggerating, but I was really ROFLMAO!!
Omar SattarJames Powell and 2 others like this

Hi Amanda
I was myself amused imagining the scene and there was also a sense of wonder; hence the comment to Peter.

By the way, what is ROFLMAO? Dictionaries were no help. And is there a vowel missing?

@KRL ROFLMAO = Rolling on Floor, Laughing My A** Off" .
@Amanda Lucky you didn't realize my current colossal corpulence, or you'd have still been on the floor now, and permanently separated from your A**.

Me thinking like a teacher! (about the spelling, I mean)

Thanks. Thanks for the humour, too.

Topic 3
How sources outside the linguistic system of English (contextual factors) affect its organization?
Asgar Mahmoudi

Top Contributor
I'm sorry but whose organisation are you referring to? And by 'linguistic system' are you referring to linguistics per se or something else? Thanks for the clarification.

Asgar Mahmoudi
@ KR - By linguistic, I mean linguistic per se. By organization I'm again referring to the organization of language. My question concerns the ways by which our oral production is controlled by external factors. As an example, you can think of politeness. What elements in a linguistic environment make people be polite or impolite? As another example, think of directness or indirectness. Why are we indirect at times but direct at other times? What features of the situation or unwritten linguistic rules dictate to us to organize our language in a particular way that it is. And finally think of formality levels that we observe.

I think culture has a lot to do with how we say what we say or what we say and what we don't--especially the politeness part of it. Being formal or informal depends on how people perceive themselves. For instance, I tend to be informal but when I see the other person is being formal I switch my mode to the extent possible. Being direct or indirect can again be a cultural issue or dependent on an individual's mental make-up. Sarcasm, irony or mockery for that matter depends on the individuals. Sympathy, empathy, patience, understanding again depends on the individuals. The mood that you're in during a communication is another factor that builds or mars the effort.
Topic 4
Omar Sattar EFL/ESL Instructor, Translator & Interpreter
Top Contributor
How important is lesson planning? Do you always manage to stick to it? Why / why not?

In India, institutions offering a Bachelor of Education course which is actually a teacher training degree every aspiring school teacher must qualify for, lesson plan (roughly speaking containing topic, activities, method, prefaced by 'expected outcome' etc.) is taught and every teacher is supposed to prepare a lesson plan for every period. These are monitored by the Head/ the Principal/ Headmaster. Errors/weaknesses are pointed out. Whereas in colleges, there's no visible lesson plan for lectures.

Having said that, having a planned lesson plan ahead of a class might take away innovation from the mind of the teacher for the tendency would be to follow it religiously, and the teacher might be confounded by a doubt / question a student may ask / pose because the lesson plan has no plan for such intrusions! On the other hand, free wheeling is also risky because the teacher can flounder in the middle and not know how to proceed further.

The solution is having a mental plan (written down in the initial stages of a teacher's career) with a clear picture of the topic, its details, presentation, source(s) (in addition to the course book) activities etc. linked to each other.

For instance, let's take the simple present tense.
the topic: simple present tense
the source: text book, (others so your supervisor will know you do your homework)
the purpose: contrasting it with present progressive (this must have already been
the details: highlighting the differences in their uses
the presentation:
• recapitulate the present progressive through black board work / exercises getting learners to
• introduce the simple present (writing on the board / have visuals)
• distinguish 'real' present between the 'ever' present
• provide simple exercises (orally or/and written)

If the system permits, the teacher can with experience do away with the physical lesson plan because the mind will now work like a mental clock.
Lincoln L.Nada Stojanovic and 2 others like this

A lady member said this:
I'd like to differ with almost all of you.
I consider that a planned lesson is very likely to be a failed lesson, because it cannot respond to the students' needs in the here and now, which I need to do if I want them to learn.

I do however usually know what I want the students to work on during the class. I just don't believe in teaching it to them and certainly not from a planned lesson.

There is no link between teaching and learning. It's not because I teach that they learn. If there were such a link there would be no need for exams. I would do what I do and everyone would know it. As we all know, this isn't how it works.

SO, I have to do what's necessary to get them learning, rather than actively teaching them. Since I am teaching spoken English, this means getting them to speak constantly, which I know how to do.

I usually know what will happen in the first minute of the class. After that, the class and I improvise as we collectively make up the lesson as we go along. They talk to each other about themselves and my role is to correct what they say as we go along.

It works very well in practice.
 Susanna D.Lincoln L. like this

She continued:
Hello K R Lakshminarayanan
You gave the Present Tense as an example. Here's what I do.
I go into class and ask, 'What do you do every morning?' and then when they can say the question well, I get one of the students to ask another, and the second student has to reply. The rest of the lesson takes place in the Present.

The only rule is, every sentence must be true to the students' lives.
- I get up at 7, I have breakfast, I take the bus to work...
- What about you?
- I get up at 7h30, I don't have breakfast. I drive to work. I have a big lunch because at 1é o'clock, I'm hungry. etc
Then we can go on with "Fred gets up earlier than Marie" or whatever. Since the students are responsible for the content, I can't get all this ready beforehand. All I decide is what the initial question question will be.

My role is to correct and to feed in vocabulary as and when necessary. Everything important in the language comes up sooner or later.

Topic 5
My friends and I shared our thoughts in limericks:
No preparation or plan
Some said an also ran.
Never in a fluster
With chalk in hand and duster
Continued from where last he began.

And then the sun rose
At which point he froze.
Scratching his head
Whilst laying in bed
I'm late - stone the crows!

How time has flown
He thought on his own.
But now to make haste
As he set of at pace
Worrying his students were all alone.

He got to the school gate
In a right ol' state.
With lesson plan at home
Memory-loss syndrome
He still hadn't checked the date.

It suddenly dawned
This bright early morn
'Twas still the flippin' weekend.
About turn, shouted a friend
Gob-smacked, he collapsed with a yawn.

what a feast it’s been
what a race it’s been
breezing it’s been
pleasing it’s been

each vying with each other
popping out ere the other
put the pen down

words sprint and ride
sounds jingling
thoughts threading
warmth spreading
what a ‘beast’ it’s been
a limerick taste it’s been
what a revel it’s been
what marvel it's been
what a ride it's been

Compete? With you all?
No way!
Zoe Harwood, ... and 5 others like this

For students, a teacher who cares,
And never puts on selfish airs,
But gets the work done
Is nothing but fun!
Now turn and discuss this in pairs.

Time stood still after 24 days
as if everyone was in a daze
the thread picked up ‘gain
words flowed in a rain
everyone woke up penning in amaze

a lovely lass there was
a loving lad there was
the lass was tall
wouldn’t play ball
what a tragedy it was

the lad did indeed woo
how he wanted her to coo
the lass the lad loved most
how he wanted to boast
he could only rue for she did only boo
..., James Powell and 2 others like this

@ K R: Boo hoo!

James, what's 'hoo' or just for rhyme or an abbreviation of hoo-ha?
James Powell likes this

@KR, or boo-hoo...

Hey Sara
a moment ago, it was James, now you. What's happening! It's getting mysterious by the minute

@KR, lol
No mystery, It's all history!
we probably posted our comments at the same time,
All is fine!
James Powell likes this

A lady member clarified:
KR, try to cry and listen to yourself. You'll be saying boo-hoo-hoo. It's an onomatopoeia.
James Powell likes this

@ K R: Have you never heard the expression, "Boo hoo?" It's like saying, "Poor little you . . . that's such a shame . . . my heart bleeds for you, etc, etc. And then there's Yogi's sidekick Boo Boo (Bear). I guess you know that a "boo boo" is a little mistake, or a minor wound such as a cut, scrape, abrasion, etc., usually on a child.
Nada Stojanovic likes this

comments several there were
plain talk minus a snare
spoken without reservation
oft in great admiration
we know we go where!
 Nada Stojanovic, Sylvia V. and 4 others like this

Evelyn Gullet wrote:
Let's write in the same vein
with a smile on our face
Songs and poems still remain
even if lost in cyberspace

As a contributor once top of the pile
Some thought had perhaps departed
With comments lacking a while
Contribution level set back to Getting Started!

So now good time to reassess
With more than just a look-in
Thanks LinkedIn for another fine mess
Time for a new beginning

With the EFL archive somewhat depleted
But with new threads still aplenty
Stand up not be defeated
Digest posts at pace more gently

No better time than a Sunday
With working week ahead
To make this day a fun-day
Cause soon it'll be time for bed

With that I come to conclusion
Before this becomes more confusion
And in case I don't see you
Good afternoon, good evening and good night!

English teacher at SEIHA English academy
Top Contributor
To write a limerick I did try
to offer one much better
than those I seen and read before
but couldn't quite manage it cos
I'm not very good at writing funny things in patterns.
Zena P.Nada Stojanovic and 3 others like this

Fame at last

I’ll cook and wait
you’ll come and eat?
I’ll cook and dress
you’ll book and fuss?
I’ll boil and fry
you’ll wail and cry?
I’ll hum and wait
You’ll come and eat?

Topic 6
Sara Almassi Lecturer, College of Science and Research, Tehran Branch
Top Contributor
Is it ok for an EFL teacher to hate teaching a particular grammatical structure? I, Personally hate teaching Adverbial Phrases-The reduction of Adverbial clauses to phrases. Can anyone give some hints on how to make this topic more interesting for the learners. I sense the fact that my dislike in the subject is being conveyed to them!

Google couldn't help me find the website: It asked whether I meant:, thinking that there could be an inadvertent spelling error I clicked on only to find it was an ad website.

I like your humour in the last sentence! Well, we do send out vibrations, I believe. I'm curious to know the 'why' if you're willing. I can't speak for others; personally, I have no cause to hate any part of a language, let alone conversion of adverb clauses into phrases.

@K R, Don't get me wrong! I did not say that I hated any part of the language, I just mentioned that I dislike "teaching" a particular grammatical structure. Since you seem to like it, any hints or suggestions on how to make it easier or interesting (Adverbial Phrases)? :-)

Hi Sara
May be I didn't express myself clearly enough. I'm sorry but I never said you hated any part of a language; I said I don't hate any part of a language.

Here is a sample:
Fred, ‘My car is old. It’s in excellent condition.’
John, ‘Hey, that’s two sentences disjointed.’
Fred, ‘What do you mean?’
John, ‘How can you not understand?’
Fred, ‘Oh come on, tell me what you meant.’
John, ‘Okay. Here goes. You made two statements that hang separately.
           I mean you need to use a linking device. That is, you need to
           show a relationship between the messages. Now listen:
           When you say, ‘My car is old, but in excellent condition’
          ‘Though my car is old, it’s in excellent condition’
          ‘My car is old; yet, it’s in excellent condition.’
          ‘In spite of/Despite the fact that my car being old, it’s in excellent condition’
           Do you follow?
Fred, ‘No.’
John, ‘That’s alright. We always show connections between sentences
           when necessary. Your two sentences indicate a contrast because
           one is a positive thought and the other, a negative one, and so both
           have a relationship of contrast, so you need to use a suitable contrast
           expression. What you do is use ‘though’, ‘but’, ‘yet’, or ‘despite/
           in spite of’ to show the sentences have a contrast relationship.
Fred, ‘Mmm, you mean when relationships exist we need to express it
           through appropriate link words, right?’
John, ‘Yep.’ You can go a step further and say, ‘Though old, my car is in excellent
           condition’ or ‘despite its age, my car is in excellent condition’. The
           idea is the fewer the words, the better the brevity. You turn one
           sentence into a phrase to achieve economy.
           Now can you try this: he was always helpful, he wasn’t liked.
Fred, ‘He was always helpful but he wasn’t liked.’
John, ‘Where’s the reduction here?’
Fred, ‘That’s right. How about this: 'he was always helpful but wasn’t liked'?
John, ‘yes, it also contains reduction but not the one I showed.’
Fred, ‘I see. Though always helpful, he wasn’t liked.
John, ‘You ARE a fast learner. Now do this: My boss was angry, he listened
           to me patiently.
Fred, ‘Though my boss was angry, he listened to me patiently.’ Just a...
John, ‘Hey, no reduction there.’
Fred, ‘You didn’t let me finish. Though angry, my boss listened to me patiently.’
John, ‘Yes, you got the hang of it. Make a reduction on your own, can you?’
Fred, ‘Why not? Though unhappy, my new girl friend came to the party.’
John, ‘Got another girl friend now? Am I happy for you!’

Interesting or not, this is how I’d do it. (an adverb phrase!)
Sara Almassi likes this

@K R,thank you for taking the time to share your experience and knowledge. What I had in mind was reducing them to phrases:
Shouting on top of her voice, she called my name.
Having finished her dance, she came to me.
And to make them sound fun!

That's what the whole dialogue was about! And reduction is done!

Topic 7
Colleagues, I need assistance on teaching question tags. Is it really true that question tags cannot be formed using demonstratives as in AREN'T THERE? or ISN'T THERE?
Sekagya Eric English Language Teacher Educator at Ministry of Education and Sports, Uganda
Top Contributor

There has always existed dichotomy between grammar and usage. Grammar describes correctness of ‘form’ as in vogue whereas actual usage may still differ from declared acceptances.

Here are a few instances of this dichotomy I have noticed in today’s famous novelists or fiction writers whose pieces are gone through with a fine tooth comb by editors of famous publishing houses.

Point 1
I’m listening to you, aren’t I?
I am pretty and smart, aren’t I?

This is definitely one of those cases where usage goes against grammar.

Point 2
Here is another as evidenced in the samples, quoted from famous novelists, uttered by educated speakers.

‘no’, ‘correct’ or ‘right’ as a tag in both NAmE and BrE:

In the novels quoted, these appear as spoken by ‘educated’ characters:
1. “Pictures can be misleading, no?” Zackheim gave him a questioning look.
2. “You didn’t even want him as a client.”
“But now I have him, no?”
Robert Ludlum’s The Ambler Warning

3. ‘I always bring lots of fruit on a mission. Much nicer than rations, no?’
Andy McDermott’s Empire of Gold

4. "I'm sure I told you this story, right?’
Sean Black’s Lock Down

5. 1. Your family is friends with the CEO’s family, right?
     2. Sounds great, no?
Steve Berry’s The Venetian Betrayal

Frequency of use of such expressions in fiction is equal to the grammatical tag forms.

point 3
'isn't it' as a tag is used by a very large population of users of English as another language. "
..., Nada Stojanovic like this

Toic 8
She 1) Was walking 2) walked in the rain the whole morning.
Amanda Jayne Schwarcz Language Instructor at The Open University of Israel
Top Contributor

Which is correct? The Grammar book I have gave me the opposite answer of what I expected. Please could you explain your answer ..
English Language Instructor at Royal Saudi Air Force
Top Contributor
I vote for 2). To go with 1), her walk would either have to be timestamped ("She was walking in the rain this morning at about 8:00."), or, better yet, interrupted ("She was walking in the rain this morning, when lightning struck a nearby tree."). Actually, I would probably say, "She spent the entire morning out walking in the rain." I hope she remembered her umbrella. :-)

Owner, Discovery Educational Software
As a native speaker I don't consider either to be wrong, but I would prefer 'was walking'. However native speakers tend to over-use the gerund: I was speaking to a friend of yours today. What were you doing last night? So I wouldn't be surprised if your grammar book told you the opposite.

Amanda: In my view, it's difficult to say which one is correct without knowing the context. Please give us some more info.
Amanda Jayne Schwarcz likes this

My problem with Amanda's sentences is as follows:
1. Are we putting emphasis on the duration (the whole morning)? Or:
2. Are we simply talking about a completed action in the past?

My guess is the "duration". So, "was walking" is the correct one.
PS Amanda, still waiting for more info with eagerness. -)

A male member wrote it was quite obvious they both are correct with a slight difference in meaning. Choice ‘a’ would focus on the duration of the activity while ‘b’, on the whole morning without emphasis on the duration.

This was an exercise for students who had to choose either the past simple/progressive. It is a stand alone sentence in the book, and has no other context. The student gave one answer, and I disagreed. When I looked up the answer at the back, saw that the student's answer was right. hmmm so either the grammar book has a mistake or I do. Or I see here that some of you think that both are correct.. ?

I'd also say both are right because, as ... says, we should look at the message/ information being passed on besides seeing the grammaticality.

Jennifer Nascimento’s contribution:
... It's all about emphasis and what the context says. Out of curiousity, what did your book say?

The differences here are not as marked as for some sentences as the time reference is stated

She was walking in the rain the whole morning. 
At a specific time in the past. (Over the period of the morning) The time reference is more important. If you back in time to a specific place, you can see the action in progress so you need the time reference to show you where to go to. 
"She was walking in the rain." is almost crying out for the time reference. "When?"

She walked in the rain (the whole morning.) 
Sometime in the past. The time is not so important. "She walked in the rain." Yeah that's fine.

As ... said, there is little difference and that is why these forms are commonly interchangeable with a little care. 
It is also why I use my diagram, to show the difference.

Not used drive before. Don't know if this link will work so fingers crossed.

Several lady members said though both were correct, the choice would depend on the emphasis given or the context in which the test statement was place.

Frankly speaking, "the whole evening" (according to classical British English grammar) requires Past Perfect Continuous - "had been walking" as it emphasizes the duration. So, I think there is a mistake and neither variants are correct.

To me the dimension involved here is aspectuality, and context, of course, is of the essence. So, I've quickly jotted down a couple of situations that came to mind

- It was a trifle hard to get hold of her those rainy days. She was walking in the rain the whole morning, going to all sorts of classes in the afternoon and wearing soft foam ear plugs starting from the early evening. Peter had repeatedly phoned her apartment that Monday and then again on the Tuesday before his departure, but he had got no answer. Her mother had been calling too. The telephone was now ringing again, persistently.

Imperfectivity / habituality is conveyed here within a limited period of time

She walked in the rain the whole morning the day they told her she didn't have very long

The idea conveyed here is one of perfectivity

I quite agree with ..., it is a matter of focus. "Walked" focuses on the fact and "was walking" on the process. "Was walking" is also more descriptive and the other one is more factual. After "walked" you might expect a chain of events that took place in the same morning.

I don't want to say just yet what the book says, because I see this sentence as completely out of context, as a stand alone , as I have previously mentioned, and there is only ONE correct answer in the book.
@Neal: there was NO timestamp so would you still stick by your answer?

@...: I agree with what you wrote, but if you could only choose one, which would you pick? Please read my comment above re the purpose of the exercise.

I agree with all of you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But if this sentence appeared in a test,, as is,,, which answer would you give?
There is NO CONTEXT --- !!!!!! Those are the 2 sentences --- !!!! Please don't add context in this specific example, because there wasn't any !!! It is EITHER 1 or 2... I also think that if you add context etc, it could go either way, but only Neal has given me one answer---- (and that was when he added a time frame) ...

Put a line through the question.
Send everyone involved in writing the test to Coventry and move on...

@...: As I said, this was a sentence in a grammar book to revise the uses of the past simple vs past progressive. There is no context. The student has to choose either the simple or the progressive, and I am stumped, The sentence says "
She ------------------- (walked/ was walking) in the rain the whole morning. That is it. So should I write to the publishers of the book ?
It is a famous Publishing House in Israel (actually owned by a Scottish Family) say no more :-) but I am going to phone them up ... Thanks everyone !

I don't know if anybody has mentioned this already, but "She was walking in the rain the whole morning" would normally be used in conjunction with the another piece of information whereas "she walked in the rain the whole morning" can appear on its own as a statement.

EG - She was walking in the rain the whole morning because she had been locked out of her flat; She was walking in the rain the whole morning while thinking about her cat.

What did she do yesterday? She walked in the rain the whole morning.
Why didn't she answer her phone yesterday? [she didn't answer her phone] Because she was walking in the rain the whole morning.

The past progressive gives some context or flavour to other events that happened in the past. It extends the time frame and puts the reader/listener within that time frame. The past simple simply relates what happened.

OK , SO I'll put all of you out of your misery. The "CORRECT " answer according to the book is the past simple !!!! I like most of you who did choose one answer over the other, chose the past progressive.. So I will definitely be calling the company tomorrow and thanks to all for your input !!!

There are no perfect test items writers, in my opinion. The context and the interpretation of the message is more in the mind of the test writer and the examinee is expected to anticipate that and choose the answer!

But bereft of the context, both the choices are correct.
Omar Sattar likes this

Sorry KR didn't follow that. One more time please.

no perfect test item writer ...
The context a test item is based on doesn't get reflected in the formation of the test item and thus it remains incomplete; yet students are expected to understand this context from the way the test item is formed and to identify the right choice.

I used 'bereft' (=completely lacking something) in the sense of 'without'.

Hope I've made myself clear now.

...and if I were being a real pain (which I can be), I would have opted for "She HAD BEEN walking in the rain all morning." Reactions to this please ?

@Lynne: If you use the past perfect, "She HAD BEEN walking in the rain all morning," don't you need to complete it by including a clause in the past simple which happened later?

Go away for a few days and miss out on all the fun? Can't believe nobody asked whether she remembered to take a brolly with her?

Lynne: I like it! As a standalone sentence, the meaning is incomplete. There must be some context if we are to use the past perfect continuous / progressive correctly. Examples:

- She was soaked. She had been walking in the rain all morning.
- She was soaking wet because she had been walking in the rain all morning.

Q: Why was she soaked?
A: Because she had been walking in the rain all morning.

Topic 9
What is an EFL teacher's worst enemy?
Asgar Mahmoudi  University Lecturer at Islamic Azad University (IAU)- دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی
Top Contributor

I've never thought of anything or anyone as my enemy for mind receives and sends out negative thoughts as vibrations.

The worst enemy teachers (the EFL included) have to fight are images of self and others--students, colleagues and administration (including Management). There are only two cooks here and yet they spoil the broth.

Topic 10
What metaphors or similies do you like to teach in class?
I slept like a log.
My stomach is a bottomless pit :-)
You are as sweet as pie .
Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
I am as blind as a bat.
My love is like a red red rose -ROBERT BURNS (for those who don't know)
My house is as clean as a whistle (yeah right!)

@... : To fit like a glove is an IDIOM ! Not a Metaphor or Similie. Hmmmm Seems like we are having problems defining metaphors and similies here..
@...: Same comment to you as I wrote to Marcela above.(It's raining cats and dogs is an idiom !).

A simile occurs when a composer compares a subject to another that is not usually linked. Often the word 'like' or 'as' combines the two subjects:
The best way to find a simile in a text is to ask yourself whether or not two unlike things are being compared.

Metaphors are like similes in that two subjects that are not usually linked are linked. Metaphors are different in that, rather than a simple comparison, a metaphor states that the two subjects are the same or equal. The effect of this is to give one object the attributes of the other.

Idioms are figurative phrases that are commonly used. Unlike similes and metaphors, there are no rules that define them, other than being figurative. You use idioms all the time without even noticing them. Some include:

It's raining cats and dogs.
Literally = cats and dogs are falling from the sky.
Figuratively = It is raining heavily.

The metaphors that I like teaching are:

- A blanket of snow. E.g. A blanket of snow covered the whole town.
- Apple of my eye. E.g. My daughter is the apple of my eye.
- Time is money. E.g. The exam is in two days. Let's start revising, time is money.
- Nutshell. E.g. Let's put it in a nutshell, your performance was poor.
- You are the light in my life. E.g. My daughter is the light in my life. 
Broken heart (the feeling of being hurt and sad).
Time is a thief (meaning that time passes very quickly).
Boiling mad (very angry)

As for similes, they are:

- Fight like cats and dogs. E.g. When she meets her brother, they often fight like cats and dogs.
- To be as different as night and day. E.g. Despite the fact that they're brothers, they're as different as night and day.
- As tall as a giraffe. E.g. Although his parents are of medium height, their son is as tall as a giraffe. 
Cute as a kitten (lovely).
As busy as a bee. (always busy, very active).
As thin as a toothpick. (very thin, skinny).

Other contributions
As clear as mud!
We study the similes like: as pleased as punch, as quick as as a flash, as white as a sheet, as fresh as a daisy,
to run like the wind.
As clear as crystal
My heart is broken.
I feel blue.
America is a melting pot.
I am a night owl.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
He reeks of infidelity.
He has the stench of failure.
Books are the keys to your imagination.
Eyes are the windows to the soul.

Like other languages, English is also replete with similes and metaphors, yes. I can't recollect occasions when I used either. English can be spoken to great effect without employing these.

To translate a metaphor or simile or two from Tamil, 'he has the strength of an elephant', ;he has the memory of an elephant', 'he roars like a lion', 'he's as sly as a fox', 'he's as quiet as a cow', 'he ran like a deer', 'he only barks...'

These are more in the realm of fantasy and poetry but they do pop in now and then in day-to-day conversations.
Omar SattarDianna Henshaw and 1 other like this
I have a memory like a sieve.
He drinks like a fish.
You look like death warmed up.

Books are a window on other worlds.
Knowledge is power.
She's a gem/treasure/keeper.

@JR:You are anything but a sly fox, but it's interesting to see international ones . Thanks !
(referring to me)

Topic 11
What type of teacher are you?
Eliette María Veintemilla Granados ESL Instructor at La Maison de L'amitié Top Contributor

Are you the facilitator, leader, animator type? or are you the traditional type, great grammar convincing explanations and who gives the basics of the language type of teacher?

I am a teacher and I take pride in that. Yes, I teach, I love it.

The problem is not the expression itself, it is the 'baggage' that is tagged on to it that is the problem. So we look for alternatives like facilitator or animator or mentor, and we're relieved!. It's the 'exaggerated' behaviour of a good number of practitioners (of the past, why even today) that is the culprit. Not the poor teacher for there have always been teachers who were facilitators or animators or mentors. I know some of them and I'm sure other teachers do, too. Even a facilitator has to teach or an animator for that matter. Now what does 'teach' mean? 'To help somebody learn something by giving information about it' is what Advanced Learner's says. Can facilitator or an animator for that matter do without it?

It's the description that should be improved, not the damaged word 'teacher'.
Richard TomlinLee Regal and 1 other like this

@ Prof B: Well you've successfully drawn my attention back to this thread! What type of teacher would I like to be?

T - Troubleshooting
E - Enlightening
A - Acuity
C - Conscientious
H - Honest
E - Enterprising
R - Redeeming

Anyone else for tennis?

Topic 12
What would you have liked to be if not teacher
Eliette María Veintemilla GranadosESL Instructor at La Maison de L'amitiéTop Contributor
Are you the facilitator, leader, animator type? or are you the traditional type, great grammar convincing explanations and who gives the basics of the language type of teacher?

I didn't choose, the profession chose me! May be I'd have like to have been a lawyer or a spy! I could've been a tool in seeing justice done.
Zoe HarwoodJames P. and 2 others like this

Hi Wendy, you have a most desirable quality for a teacher--being a social creature. And if you can maintain your 'innocence' nothing can be better for most of us lose ours on the way!

Hi Teresa 
Let me take the liberty of answering your question (sorry, Iyer, I'm hijacking it!, I'm sure you wouldn't mind) about acquisition of English language as being essentail to job getting. Yes, if you want to land a job with a 'fat' salary--in IT companies (Ah, I see he's already answered your question in his last comment) and of course to pursue courses abroad.

What a teacher should avoid to be:

Topic 13
Do you think we should tell students to "think in English"?
Theresa Pole Baker Gouveia Business Development Executive at Control Network Solutions Ltd
Top Contributor

Students are often exhorted to "think in English". I don't think it is necessary to tell them this, because when they build communicative confidence, they do this naturally.
What do you think?

Telling won't help. Only sustained desire to learn beating the odds, seeking avenues (reading, watching films) to be in as much touch as possible (and increase its width gradually) with the language because opportunities are hardly available in the environment, practising it with friends and relatives (if educated)--listening and speaking can help learners think in the language they're learning only in the classroom.

A male member said:
Telling does help and it works for me as I am extremely persistent and consistent. It is a slow process because the students spend little time with me each week. Ideally the student needs to be engulfed in the English language as much as possible (24 hours a day would be best) to really begin to consistently think in English. Trying to learn a language for 2 -4 hours a week is makes it difficult. Here is another topic : I tell my students to learn English from documentaries and not to try to learn from regular movies. There are very few regular movies which produce good English nowadays.

I concur with JR.  (JR refers to me!)

A lady member said:
I concur with KR and Kim. I work in Taiwan and listen to Chinese 90% of my day, teach English in English for 20 hours a week, and think more in Ukrainian (my mother tongue) than in English.

As an ESL learner, even though I have been speaking English for 50+ years, and teaching English Language, Literature and Composition for more than 30, when I am in a foreign country, surrounded by a foreign environment, I think in Ukrainian a great deal of the time. I don't try, it just happens.

When students in their own country, spend maybe, 4 hours a week learning English and then are surrounded by their mother tongue for the rest of the time, thinking in English is beastly difficult, although they will try. They will succeed now and again. But to expect them to think in English is an unrealistic request. And I think, it is unkind. The persistent expectation that this will improve their English language skills puts a great deal of stress on an already stressful endeavor.

Ukrainian is my 1st language and the language of my heart, my cultural core, my beliefs and my values. Telling me to think in English, no matter how persistent you are, doesn't work, so I sure the heck don't, and never will, tell my students that it is something that they have to do in order to improve their English language skills.

I concur with KR too. Their exposure to the English language and their involvement will lead to more natural constructions which is often not the case when translating literally. In order to have natural flow and use the right idiom you must listen a lot, read a lot and speak as much as possible. After a period of intensive accumulation you reach a stage at which you juggle with words and do not constantly translate what you want to say. I am three-lingual but I hardly ever use my mother tongue, not even in my dreams. It is true that I do not live in my home land, but you would expect that I resort to my native tongue when I am emotional but I do not do that either. I would like to emphasize that it does not help to tell them that they should think in English but help them reach the stage at which they can play with different entities and spontaneously produce the language that is natural and authentic.

Topic 14
What is the best ways to teach English as foreign language?
Abdoulaye Melène TOURE Prof de langue chez OAS Oficial Top Contributor
I don't think that there is a correct answer to your question. Each teacher has his/her own WAY, methodology of teaching. Firstly I would be asking what is the aim of our teaching? Is it to foster friendliness and amusement through entertainment? Or isn’t it rather to teach learners something they actually need to learn?

You could refuse to use your student's native language, you force them to learn English by first using your body language and gestures to teach them new words, and then using what they've learned to build even more knowledge. This pattern of learning closely mimics the way babies and infants learn a language, and therefore this method of teaching often 'sticks' better than using rote memorization of English words.

Another important strategy when teaching English is to have your students practice common phrases until they feel completely comfortable with those phrases. This technique is often used with diplomats and allows the student to focus heavily on correct pronunciation and accent. For example, teaching the English equivalent of common greetings, questions, and idioms can go a far way towards teaching English language arts. It's important when teaching any language to focus on the most useful and common phrases first, so your students are able to start conversing right away. There are hundreds of English teaching guides that will help you choose what sorts of phrases and words to learn grammar and vocabulary students have to learn "language". ON the other hand you could get them to memorize texts. This may sound very old fashioned, but it works! Have them do a short listening comprehension cloze exercise. Then have them memorize it and in class recite it to their partner, not to the whole class—that can be embarrassing and appear silly—but just to a friend, insisting on the right rhythm and intonation. Have them memorize poems of their choice that they find in books or on the Web.So as you can see there are many ways- You need to do what works for you, That is the best advice I could offer you. . I could go on and on. My way is definitely not the "right" way, but it works for me. You need to do as Zoe suggested above. Keep it simple..

Quality coursebook from top publishing houses do generally provide teacher's manual where you'll be informed how to handle the coursebook. This could be a start if you are a new entrant.

If publishers don't provide you with one, you might consult your seniors what method works for them. Test them and if they work, fine. Or try bilingual method if you know the local language, unilingual to make learners swim on their own, reading method, task-based approach, grammar method.

But beware that there's no guarantee that what works for one set of students will work for all sets. Teaching is a constant discovery process.

This is the best I can do. Best wishes for a successful career, ...
Zoe Harwood likes this

Topic 15
GRAMMAR: Out with the old and in with the new! Should we take a different approach to teaching grammar?
Zoe Harwood Teacher of English Top Contributor
Its an exciting time for grammar, according to the experts. But theres a need for fresh thinking and the word itself can be misleading Some of the countrys most eminent linguists came together for English Grammar Day, presented by UCL and Oxford...

Love this question Zoe. On the one hand it's not just a question of renaming the term "grammar", but it is rethinking the whole approach as was stated in the article you posted.I am a great fan of teaching all aspects of the English Language in context, otherwise it has no meaning for the learner. I know that all the schools in Israel use the "old method" which is why I am so busy.The old approach is the linear method where one tense is taught and mastered (like a linguistic brick wall), starting off with the easier tenses and then progressing slowly, ploughing through the tenses IMHO accuracy does not increase in a linear fashion, it actually decreases. It appears that, rather than being isolated bricks, the various elements of language interact with, and are affected by, other elements to which they are closely related in a functional sense. I wish teachers in schools would "GET" that and understand that English languange aquisition is not a linguistic brick wall, but more like growing a garden where learners do not learn one thing perfectly, one item at a time, but instead, numerous things simultaneously (and imperfectly). The linguistic flowers do not all appear at the same time, nor do they all grow at the same rate. Some even appear to wilt, for a time, before renewing their growth. I try to encourage my students to be explorers of English, using authentic material rather than isolated sentences which are out of context. Yes, the whole approach needs to be rethought . My answer is also based on a seminar papaer I did years ago, when learning linguistics. It's not just my own idea (Can't take all the credit) :-)
10 othes like this

Renaming ‘grammar’ can help; the new caption can get teachers and learners to understand better the functioning of a language because the focus would be on learning a language and through it its grammar, not the other way round. Both the parties would now see grammar in a new light and understand that expressing thoughts is what a language does and grammar describes this process.

Add to this an awareness in both the teacher and the learner how English differs from the mother tongue or the regional language in expressing thoughts. Such contrastive teaching will go a long way in creating in the learner a desire to think in English instead of thinking in their language and translating their language structures into the English ones.

I recommend ‘expressing thoughts in English’: how do form sentences, how do we ask questions, how do we exclaim, how do we express thoughts negatively, how do we compare, how do say conditions, how do we express purpose, reason, contrast, and so on.

Topic 16
Is there any difference between "error" and "mistake"? Waiting for your opinions.
Eleni World Secretary-Typist Top Contributor

1) He go to school. (Error. The student has not learnt the 3rd person form)
2). He goes to scool. (Mistake. The student knows the correct spelling, but wrote it wrongly)

It's a mistake if, once it's pointed out to you, you immediately realise you've made a mistake.

However, in colloquial English, a mistake is an error.

From WIKI :
"In linguistics, it is considered important to distinguish errors from mistakes. Distinction is always made between errors and mistakes where the former is seen as resulting from learner's lack of proper grammatical knowledge and the latter as being failed to utilize a known system correctly.[3] Brown terms these mistakes as performance error. Such mistakes are generally made by both the native speakers and second language learners. However, native speakers are generally able to correct themselves quickly. Such mistakes include slip of the tongue, random ungrammatical formations. On the other hand, errors are systematic in that they occur repeatedly and are not recognizable by the learner. They are a part of the learner's interlanguage, and the learner does not generally consider them as errors. They are errors only from teachers' and others' perspectives who are aware of the possible grammatical deviations.[4] That is, mistakes can be self-corrected with or without being pointed out to the speaker but errors cannot be self-corrected.[5]"
19 like it

Do we really to differentiate like this in the real world? I don't. Should I?

error—a mistake especially that causes problems or that affects the result of sth
(=none given) (rather formal as against ‘mistake’)
There are too many errors in your work/essay/writing.
mistake—an action or opinion that is not correct or that produces a result you didn’t want
Don’t worry, we all make mistakes.
Since ' 'Error' is a more formal way saying a mistake' says Advanced Learners' Dictionary,

Can I add here 'blunder', 'flaw' and 'slip' ?
blunder—a stupid or careless mistake
flaw—a mistake in sth that means that it is not correct or does not work correctly
There are too many flaws in your theory. (=defect/fault)
slip--a small mistake usually made by being careless or not paying attention

Please comment:
can we say 'Don't worry we all commit errors?'
Can we say here: There are too many errors/mistakes in your theory?
Prof.Iyer Baalank and another like this

Topic 17
Due to or owing to
We Indians seem to use one for the other. Some years ago, I’d come across in a grammar book (I hadn’t noted the title and the author which I normally do when photocopying pages) information about the difficulty in distinguishing between the two expressions:

“• Due. A, B, C of English Usage says: ‘Unlike owing to, due (to) has never become a
compound preposition, that is, due retains its adjectival function and must be properly
related to the noun or pronoun it qualifies’. Thus in the sentence Due to the bad weather,
he cannot come, ‘due’ obviously does not qualify ‘he’, and therefore has nothing left to
qualify. If due is to be used, the only way is to provide it with an actual noun: ‘His inability
to come was due to the bad weather,’ where ‘due’ qualifies ‘inability’. But the obvious and
idiomatic construction is, ‘Owing to the bad weather, he cannot come.’...”

These two find an entry in Collins Everyday English Usage published in 1960, which seems to suggest that this error was (is?) not uncommon among native users:
due to, owing to. ‘Due’ is an adjective and must be linked to a noun or pronoun, e.g. ‘My cold, due to the weather, is worse’ and ‘Fog, due to the absence of wind, is prevalent.’ ... The confusion of due to and owing to is very common, but all who have respect for language should resist such misuses as, ‘Due to the crowds we came home early’ (due to should be owing to), and ‘Due to his impertinence, the boy was punished’ (owing to would be correct)

Is the distinction maintained even today?

Never given it a thought. I think I tend to use because...

'Because' would be easier to use.

I agree with Richard because is more easier

I believe the difference still matters. Not knowing about this issue before, I've done some quick online research, see below what I've found, it helped me understand better. 
However, with all respect for language, this doesn't count as a piece of grammar taught very often, students are more likely to comprehend the usage of "because" and "because of". 
Anyway, thank you for bringing it up!

"For those who wish to go on beating the horse, due to is adjectival and owing to is adverbial. The road was closed owing to flooding. For the road to be “due to” anything, it would have to be something that influenced the existence of the road: The road was due to the efforts of local citizens who voted to raise taxes for its construction.

Here are two more examples for the sake of comparison: 
His accident was due to excessive alcohol consumption. 
His accident occurred owing to the fact that he was talking on his cell phone."


I think that in many instances, because of is more frequently applied these days. The only difference between due to and owing to outside of grammatical structure is in register. Owing to sounds a bit old fashioned these days but has always seemed to me to be rather pointing a finger of blame, sometimes firmly. The moment you hear it, it usually means bad news. Due to can also herald bad news but isn’t very apologetic. E.G: `Due to a signalling problem, the train will be twenty minutes late. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience …’ (But actually we couldn’t care less.)

Thanks to this website I learned a lot more on the usage of due to...

Oh I'd love to know the answer to this because as a student I had an English lecturer who was very pedantic about the use of 'due to' and 'owing to'. One could only ever be used at the start of a sentence too but I cannot remember which one it was ;)

Just found this explanation which might answer the question -

"The bone of contention lies in the fact that some still object to its use at the beginning of a sentence, considering that it should be attached to its clause"

I am a native American English speaker and majored in Linguistics in college. I taught English in a public school. I must say that without looking in the grammar books, and based on my own experience, usage of the words, "owing to" is very infrequent. If I heard "owing to" used, I would know what was meant, but I almost never hear it. I would use "due to" in any of the contexts mentioned above. So choose between common usage and the grammar books. I imagine this question may be answered differently in different regions of the world.

Thanks Sandra. Yours is the first comment about the distinction continuing to exist in today's English.

HI Diana
With reference to your doubt about which one shouldn't begin a sentence, here's what Collins says:
'It is a good rule NOT to begin a sentence with 'due to' as extreme care has to be taken that 'due to' is subsequently given its appropriate noun or pronoun.'
Diana C White likes this

Roy Morien said this:
While this discussion does tend towards the practice of debating how many angels can dance gfon the head of a pin, I guess it does have some purpose and legitimacy for someone studying English grammar as an academic subject. However, from a TEFL point of view I think this is an example of the common use of English as a conversational communication medium. I would suggest that 95%+ of native English speakers neither know nor care about whether 'due to', 'owing to' or even 'because of' is adjectival or adverbial; they just want to know how to express that notion in English.

I say this not to in any way denigrate the original question or any of the discussion, but to make the point that it is important to keep in mind the real reason for teaching English to non-English speakers (at least, in my opinion), and that is to enable them to communicate with reasonable fluency and correctness in English.

Referring back to the originator of the discussion, if his question is answered as 'it doesn't really matter, either will do' then this is probably as useful to him in his understanding of English as any of the grammatical discourse that has taken place.
Me likes this

Thanks, Roy .

Topic 18
Below you’ll find responses to a discussion topic on the ownership of the English language

English Language Teacher at ILSC Education Group
Hard to say: there are so many varieties of English (and different uses in these varieties) that it's hard to say who owns English.

If we're looking purely at amount of speakers: there are more non native speakers of English than there are native.

In terms of the varieties: the last 20 or so years has seen a new field of study being developed and researched: World Englishes. This is currently what I'm studying and researching as part of my Masters of Applied Linguistics.

There are many different kinds of Englishes (yes, in the plural), that it's hard to say which group actually owns the language. I'd go so far as to say that all of them do. People in Nigeria, India, or Hong Kong using their local varieties of English have just as much ownership of the language as do other "inner circle" countries such as the UK and the USA.

If we're talking about which variety of English exerts the most influence? Well, for the longest time it was British English, and now American English has now caught up and is exerting quite a lot of influence, especially in ELT. I don't think this means that either American or British English has entire ownership of the language.

Furthermore: stating that a certain group or nation "owns" the language seems to imply that they have some right to state what is considered to be "good English" or not. I find this fairly problematic: this is because what is considered "good English" in one variety, is considered bad in another. There are documented examples in Indian English where the user uses the present continuous form for words like "know" and "think" as in "I'm knowing the answer" and "I'm thinking it is good." According to the rules of British and American English (the two most widely taught varieties) this is bad English, but it's perfectly fine in Indian English.
Zoe Harwood and 6 others like this

(verb. transitive.)
"To be made a fool of; To make a fool of; To confound or prove wrong; embarrasing someone: Being embarrassed."
(This is one of the few slang words I love to teach!)

So, errr, I meant to say, "Well _____" ... nobody "owns" English, but I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that if the English language could be patented, there's a corporation out there somewhere which is trying to figure out how to do it.
7 members like this

I stole it, got found out and then I got owned!
6 members like this

There's no single owner. In fact as Neal put it, it's owned. The one-time owner has some serious contestants.
Omar Sattar likes this

Oh how I would love to own English...much the same as I would love to own Microsoft or Virgin but since it was "floated" many years ago and lots of investors claimed a share it is no longer mine. it belongs to a huge group of shareholders who all have their say at the board meetings. What may once have been "mine" has long since ceased to belong to me and as in any multi-national company the spreading out of the risk has meant that it has grown and been shaped by many more than the founders of the original company. It is of upmost importance to stick to some of the founding statutes of said original company so that the product remains recognisable but once " floated" it is out of your hands and you have to accept changes and nuances that may not have been part of the original plan. Forgive my stock market analogy here, but it is no longer " ours" it belongs to those who have invested in it and we have to accept the changes, fighting against them is useless: this does not mean that we abandon basic founding principles but we must accept amendments and we must recognise changing needs within the international community. We must however strive to make sure that the up-coming native speaking population do not bastardize it to the extent that it is no longer recognisable as British Standard English.
8 members like this

An excellent analogy, there's no need to apologise.

It's one thing to be critical of how poorly English is being used for communication purposes it's quite another to do something about it. Two troubling questions come to the fore:

The question we need to answer is: which nationals are degrading the quality of the English language? Are these among the English, the Welsh, the Scotlanders, the Americans, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the South Africans, the Europeans(all white communities) or the non-natives--the browns, the blacks and the yellows?

The next question we need to answer is: Who will standardise the English language for others to follow? Since already American English and British English are used as models (especially in terms of pronunciation, spelling) by nonnative users, will the new standard blend the two into one in terms of pronunciation, spelling, syntax, lexis (there are distinct differences between the two in all these)? Will the new version be acceptable to the natives themselves?

Or will someone in America say with authority that the standard is decided and the whole nation should strictly adhere to it? Will a similar announcement be made in England?

Again, another thought comes to mind. What I've gathered from other discussion in this community and others, the English spoken in different parts of North America and England are so different from each other that there is no nation-wise standard. This adds to the problem of standardising an English for global use.

I'm raising these simply as issues, yes, very serious ones, to be considered and addressed in the attempt to have a standard for global use. There may be others as well.

I do hope that this attempt of mine will be seen in the right spirit in which it's intended. I need this precaution because the issue is such a sensitive one. And thanks for the understanding.
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Hi Richard. The Syllabuses I teach are Standard English, so I do not teach 'nope' and I am not suggesting we do replace the word 'No' with 'Nope'. However, we differ in that whilst you consider 'nope' to be an incorrect useage, I consider 'nope' to be a different useage. In your mind, in your opinion, 'nope' is incorrect. However, for the people who use 'nope' it is part off their cultural and social upbringing therefore they do not consider it to be incorrect. I am not aware of any Social Scientist in the world who would agree with you that Social Class has nothing to do with differences in Language Useage. On the contrary, there is undeniably a significant relationship between Social Class and the use of Language. The Social Classes have been identified by Social Scientists, not me! It doesn't matter what you call the Social Groupings - The Poor, The Rich, The Working Class, The Middle Class, The Less Educated, The More Educated - there is a tendency for different social groupings to have differences in their spoken and written English. There will always be exceptions, but generally speaking the relationship between Social Class and differences in Language useage are all too apparent. Sociologists distinguish between difference and deficit. What you see as a 'deficit', others would see as merely a 'difference'.

If you read my notes again you will see that I said " ... tend to moreso use Elaborated..." "use Restricted...moreso..." Bernstein himself recognised that that sometimes people use both Elaborated and Restricted. You refer to Formal and Informal Language: However, Formal and Informal Language is not quite the same as Elaborated and Restricted Language. A more indepth analysis indicates that Elaborated Language can be both Formal and Informal and likewise for Restricted Language. Elaborated and Restricted Language is more about differences in the brevity or fullness of a response and differences in syntax than it is about Formal and Informal. K R Lakshminarayanan and others have already explained the difficulties in various countries agreeing what should be the Standard English. However, I think most of us are already teaching the Standard English when we follow various Cambridge English/TEFL/CELTA/etc Courses. Fear not - I do not personally use the word 'nope' either in my personal life or in the classroom. However, I would not be so bold as to suggest that "No' is a better word than 'Nope'. Neither would I dare suggest that British English should be the Standard English anymore than American English should be. Difference, not Deficit! "Wats wrung wiv the way I say thins anyways. Aint you jus bein snobby." (Just Joking!). Good to debate with you Richard. We infact agree a lot more than you may think - just a few points where I would beg to differ. Thanks to yourself and Lincoln for the good jokes/humourous comments you both post sometimes.

If I belonged to a community where for instance double negative is common and I spoke the correct structure, I'd sound very odd to them. Whatever 'standard' English I may have been taught, (I may have to use it where necessary but) I'd still switch to the way my community people speak English, that's only natural. Also, I might thought to be putting on airs.

I've heard cricket commentators pronouncing 'cut' rhyming with 'put' though they must have been taught the Received Pronunciation.

I consider whatever English is thought to be 'standard' as just one of the varieties of English being spoken in a country. Expecting people to conform to this variety alone while communicating with everyone who share the same language is rather unfair, in my opinion.

Yes, uniformity in using a language is very desirable but reality says another story which we can't but respect, and which if we didn't we'd be only left with bad taste in our mouths.
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Of course, if a candidate behaves like the one in the interview, they pay the price for it. The sooner they realize, the better for them.

Yes, as teachers we should strive to get students to learn that variety that is acceptable in educated circles.
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One thing I am constantly hearing (speaking of desirable/undesirable language and respect) is, "S'up.?" for "What's up?" meaning "How are you?" Several students have said this to me lately and needless to say, they swiftly felt the wrath of Mrs. Leader and now greet me with my preferred method of greeting. "Good morning Mrs. Leader. How are you today?" Some "varieties" are acceptable, some are not.

@ Connie: With you all the way - well said!

@ JR: "I've heard cricket commentators pronouncing 'cut' rhyming with 'put' though they must have been taught the Received Pronunciation." Not Sir Geoffrey Boycott - my all-time cricketing hero, now commentator extraordinaire.
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Despite the fact that I appreciate most of the comments, I see that the thread has taken a twist. The comments have somewhat deviated from the original question. Instead of discussing the ownership issue, the question of protecting the English language and maintaining the well established standards has gained momentum.

Having said that, these questions come to my mind:

1. Do we, as educators, turn a blind eye on the incorrect use of English grammar, word order, pronunciation etc. in class?
2. Do we tolerate the use of bad English?
3. Are we lax in terms of the well established rules and standards of English?

Speaking for myself, the answer to the above questions is NO.

When we correct our learners or children, be it grammar, pronunciation, style, word order etc. we are contributing to the protection of English, preserving it from deviation and ensuring that the well established standards and rules are obeyed and respected.
I’m confident that, we as EFL educators, are doing our utmost to make sure that the pillars of the English language are kept intact and I sincerely hope that this mission will be continued by future educators.

The bottom line is, protecting English is a collective duty and responsibility.
Now, let’s go back to the issue of ownership.

I firmly believe that claiming language ownership is a myth. Today, English is an international language, and as Marina stated, it’s a lingua franca. This is an undeniable fact. English is not my mother tongue, but it is part of me. I really can’t imagine my life without it!

As I write these words, I feel that everything I know about English is running with the blood through my veins. I own what I know because I’ve worked hard to obtain it, but I’m willing to share it with great happiness and dedication.

Finally, I’d like to say this: If English were a company, I’d be one of its proud shareholders.
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Do we tolerate the use of bad English?

'Bad' is only with reference to the variety of English that is being spoken by one section of the society (of the educated ones and written in grammar books). Centuries have passed yet other varieties also continue to be spoken probably for the simple reason that they are comfortable with them and communication has gone on without having to resort to the ‘educated’ variety. I think this is the state of every language being spoken in the world—several local varieties of one language spoken by a society.

What's called 'bad' by the standards of one variety is perfectly acceptable in another variety. We cannot tell our students, can we, that they must use the newly acquired variety in their own community as well?

If a local variety is preferred over the variety taught in schools where the latter is essential for certain purposes, then the persons who use the local variety automatically suffer. No teacher is better than experience, I tell you.
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@Omar. Nicely stated, sir. I too take great pride and ownership of the "stock" of English. English Language Arts and all that it encompasses is by far one of my favorite subjects to teach. Acquiring my CELTA has brought my level of teaching to a new standard on top of the passion. I also agree with KR (a.k.a. JR, thanks to Lincoln) that experience and time "under our belts" as facilitators is just as important as following the standards and teaching them. Hopefully, this will get them to stick in our students' heads.
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Topic 19
Top Contributor
Hi, good morning/afternoon/evening/day all.
I thought I would have a look at introductions on my blog. It is surprising how the information on most pages is so sketchy.
So, how do you guys say hello? (In English obviously)
As formal or otherwise would be great. (Slang especially)
I have heard many regional variations so what is yours?

Top Contributor
I suppose it depends on who we are talking to. English does have its many registers, doesn't it?

Informally, I would say "Hi" or "Hello"
Formally, I would go for "Good ......" (whatever the time of day it is)
Slang (the only phrase that comes to mind): "Watcha cock!"
6 like this.

Thanks, Richard.

I need a clarification or two:
i. I was under the impression that it wasn’t polite to ask, “what’s your name?’
I thought it’d be appropriate to say, ‘ I’m .... and you are...’
I thought it was sufficient to say, ‘I’m ...’ and extend my hand and this would fetch the
other person’s name.

ii. I hear and read ‘I’m good’ to ‘How are you?’ Is this response right?

iii. I thought it wasn’t correct to add ‘Mr’ to your name when introducing yourself formally.

Richard Tomlin
Greetings are a two way conversation so not only will you need to be aware of the different ways that someone may greet you, you will need to know how to respond and then where to take the conversation.
You need to know all this as you don’t know which side of the conversation you will be on.

Few teachers will tell you this but in my opinion you should not be ashamed that English is not your first language. Don’t try to pass yourself off as an English speaker. Concentrate on your best effort and a polite manner. That will get you a long way with most people.

Meet and greet. Meeting and greeting people often involves starting with set conversations that have become standardised over time. Here are some examples:

Hello, my name is Richard, what is your name?
Hi Richard my name is Pat (I’m) pleased to meet you.

Hello, I'm Richard what is your name?
Hello Richard, my name’s Sarah (It’s) nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too.

It’s nice to meet you.
Often we respond to an introduction with “It’s nice to meet you.” or the shortened “nice to meet you.” to which the standard reply is “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Is it you?
Making sure you are talking to the correct person.
There are a number of ways that your first conversation will begin:
You may have someone come up to you.
You may have to introduce yourself to someone.

In both cases you may hear or use these phrases asking about the identity of someone…
Hello, are you  name?”

Some other polite phrases you may hear:
Excuse me (but), are you  name?”
 “Pardon me, are you  name?”
I beg your pardon (but) are you  name?”
I’m sorry to disturb you, (but) are you  name?”

For added politeness we may give our name first. (Note, two different ways of giving your name shown here.)
Hello, my name isname. Are you  name?”
Hello, I’mname. Are you  name?”

Using our other phrases…
 “Excuse me. I’m/My name isname. Are you  name?”
 “Pardon me. I’m/My name isname.  are you  name?”
I beg your pardon. I’m/My name isname.   are you  name?”
Have a look at the S.V.C. sentences we are using in the sentences above.

If we have already met or been introduced to someone we often just use a greeting when we meet. There are many of these and they have different levels of formality.

time of use.
Good morning
before 12:00 (lunch)
Good afternoon
after 12:00 9 lunch and until approximately 4:00-5:00 (tea time) possibly until dusk.
This is not a ‘hard and fast’ rule.
Good evening
approximately 4:00-5:00 (tea time) possibly until dusk.
Again, this is not a ‘hard and fast’ rule.
less formal
Only for use with close friends (If you must)
How’s it going (How’s it hanging?)
What’s up? (Wassup)

The formal introduction.
Introducing oneself.
In any but the most formal situations, introducing yourself is fine. Remember you should not be ashamed that English is not your first language. Don’t try to pass yourself off as an English speaker. Your best effort and a polite manner will get you a long way with most people.

Richard’s rule: 20: Nothing beats good manners.

Can/ May I introduce myself? I’m/My name’s Richard.”
Let me introduce myself? I’m/My name’s Richard.”
I’d like to introduce myself? I’m/My name’s Richard.”

I don’t think we’ve met…”

Introducing someone else:
Introduce the 'less-important' to the 'more-important'. What this means is:
This means you bring the intern across the room to meet your boss.
Introduce men to women, and younger to older.
Introduce the more familiar to the less familiar (between friends.)

Can/ May I introduce a good friend of mine? This is … .”
Have you met  ?”
I’d like you to meet  .”
I want you to meet  .”
Polite responses.
It’s nice to meet you.
As we saw above, we often respond to an introduction with “It’s nice to meet you.” or the shortened “nice to meet you.” to which the standard reply is “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Another standard response is:
 “How do you do?” to which the standard reply is “I’m fine, thank you.”
(Note we are not really asking you to tell us how you are today…)

Here is one that you can use as part of a greeting or parting:
Good/nice to see you again.”

In a less formal environment you might hear the following…
How are you doing? or the more informal How’re y’ doin’?
How is it going? or the more informal How’s it goin’?
How are things?

The informal responses to these may include:
Fine thanks/Pretty good/I’m fine etc

Other feelings may be heard in an informal response including:
O.K./all right, pretty bad, lousy,

Telling someone your name.
We usually use first name: I’m/My name’s Richard.”(informal)  last name with a title (see below): My name is Mr Tomlin.” (formal)   or first and last names: My name is Richard Tomlin.” (moderately formal)  when introducing ourselves or being introduced.

However you might find it necessary to give different parts of your name when you give your details to someone.

Let us look at your names…

Parts of your name.
Your first name. ( also, given name(given to you by your parents))
 What is your first name?”       My first name is Richard.” 
Your first name in English is also called your ‘given’ name.
 What is your given name?”       My given name is Richard.” 

Your family name.
They may ask you for your ‘family’ name.
 What is your family name?”       My family name is Tomlin.” 
You family name is the part of your names shared with the rest of your family.

Your full name.
You may be asked your name in order to fill in a document/form.
 What is your full name?”       My full name is Richard Christopher Tomlin.” 
Your full name includes all of your names.

Be careful. In some societies(Japan for example), the family name is the first name. In other words the names are given in the reverse order. My full name is Tanaka(family name) Yuko(first/given name).” 

They may ask you for all your ‘given’ names.
 What are your first/given names?”       My first/given names are Richard Christopher.” 
Your given names are all of your names except your family name.

Mr. (note the period to denote a abbreviation)
an adult male.
a juvenile male.
Mrs. (note the period to denote a abbreviation)
a married female 
an unmarried female.
Ms (miz)
an adult female whose marriage status is not known or given.

Where do you go now?
What do you do once you have re-established contact? Here are some questions to get the conversation rolling…

Some to and fro ‘mingling’…

How are you?
Fine, thanks. And you?
In an informal setting or with friends you may go into more detail about how you are…
“I’m ok but the dog is sick…”
“I’ve been really busy…”

How have you been?
Very well. And you?
Again, in an informal setting or with friends you may go into more detail about how you are…
“I’m ok but the dog is sick…”
“I’ve been really busy…”

How are things?
Not too bad, thanks.
In an informal setting or with friends you may go into more detail about how your life is going…
“Great, I have just finished at University and now I have a great job”
“Well, I have just had another baby…”

How is your mother?
She’s fine.
Be careful if you start asking about another’s family if you don’t know them well.
“My mother died last Monday…”   …oops.

I suggest you stick to neutral questions about family and friends…
“So, tell me about your family.”

There is so much that may come up that It is impossible to go through all the possibilities.
You will need to read extensively and see how it is done in print.
Watch dramas and movies and see how people do it on screen.

Remember Richard’s rule.
The more you practice the better you will get.
Really good of you to get in touch.
What you need to bear in mind that meeting and greeting happens in so many environments and with very different levels of formality that the formal versions we are often taught to expect may well not be the ones we actually encounter.
I am trying to give an overview of the whole range of possibilities.

It is interesting that I am beginning to think that native speakers worry less about these formalities than the poor suffering non-native speakers.
I also think websites dedicated to teaching this subject 'skate over' the complexities often only giving one or two possibilities meaning that in the 'real world' non-native speakers are not prepared for the variations that they may encounter.

I would agree with you to some extent. Asking a person their name is something that needs to be done with tact in a formal situation In addition to your example you could also add "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

ii)"I'm good" is fine but I personally use "I'm fine/well thank you."
You may may well hear any form of feeling though so be ready for them,

iii) Again. There are different occasions where different forms may be heard.
When I introduce myself to classes(Who are used to addressing people by their surname), I am expected to use "I'm Mr Tomlin."

As you can see. It is virtually impossible to cover all the possibilities. That is why I emphasised the importance of a 'best effort' and a polite attitude for non-native speakers.

Look out for changes as I plan to review this page quite soon. I shall bear you comments in mind when I do.

Thanks very much, Richard, for your excellent feedback. Yes, we
non-natives do have problems such as these when students ask for
clarification. For instance, I did tell my students it wasn't correct
to introduce yourself as Mr...

Only through these forums we are able to appreciate the depth of usage.

Thanks once again

p.s. Can I have your email ID. I've collected various introductions from novels I've read and enjoyed. For whatever it is worth, I'd like to send it to you.

You are welcome. I'm glad I can help.

In my area (Boston) i it would be considered a little too direct to say "What's your name?" unless speaking to a child or being interrogated by a policeman. Usually, I am Marjorie ... and you are.... works. If the person doesn't pick up on the clue, I would say, "I am sorry. I didn't get your name." I am good (Hanging in there, doing fine, I'm okay, Not bad) are all common responses to How are you? Just don't say, "Glad to hear it," if they tell you they have been in the hospital for the past 2 weeks! Really LISTEN and make sure your response makes sense given what they have told you I would say that using Mr., Ms. Or Ms. is unacceptable unless speaking to a child,

I have to say that I wouldn't say "I'm good," in response to "How are you?" "Fine, thank you." or "Very well, thank you." work better for me.

@ JR: Responding to your: 'I need a clarification or two':

"I was under the impression that it wasn't polite to ask, “what’s your name?’
I thought it’d be appropriate to say, ‘I’m .... and you are...’ I thought it was sufficient to say, ‘I’m ...’ and extend my hand and this would fetch the other person’s name."

If I greet someone for the first time, giving my name first, and the person doesn't give me their name - I usually ask/say: "Sorry, I didn't catch your name?" This works quite well in both formal and informal situations.

"I thought it wasn't correct to add ‘Mr’ to your name when introducing yourself formally."

You're right, I would not say "I'm MR Lambert" in this scenario. I would just say: "Lincoln" (informal) or "Lambert" (formal). You could also follow 007's line... "My name is Bond. James Bond!"
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Top Contributor
And to follow Evelyne's comment, we would never introduce ourselves as Mr. or Mrs. blah blah blah. It's better to simply state our name. Though it can be awkward if we introduce ourselves to someone whom we don't want to tell our first name to (parents/teachers...).
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