We all get into routines, often continuing with them long after we’ve realised any original context for them has disappeared. Teachers for some reason seem to be a little more prone to getting into bad habits than other people.
Just How Bad is Donald Trump’s English? (Putting him to the Test)
It’s easy to say that Donald Trump has poor English. It’s easy to say that the level of English that he uses, in terms accuracy and tone, is far below the minimum expected of any public speaker. And of course the reason it’s so easy to say these things is that Donald Trump actually has really bad English. So inspired by a colleague’s idea, I’m going to test him, to see exactly what level of English he has. Specifically, I’m going to assess Trump’s spoken English using the assessment criteria of the spoken section of the IELTS exam.
“Besides” and “Anyway:” a Teacher’s Nightmare
This post is inspired by the moment I noticed that I finished a recent post with a sentence beginning with besides, and ending with anyway. Not so unusual, but it brought back some painful memories…
Quite a few years ago, I was teaching an IELTS class (IELTS is a tough Academic-English exam). The lesson was a vocabulary one, about using linking words in writing. Quite straightforward for me at that stage, as I’d been teaching for some time. I had a quick look at the main exercises (I’d like to say I wasn’t provided with much time to prepare the lesson, but I’m pretty sure my quick look at the materials was solely due to my overconfidence), and was satisfied: Ok, there’s furthermore, however, although, despite, in addition to… yeah, that’s easy, I’ve time to relax for a bit.
Into the lesson then, and everything was going ok. Ok, until I had a look at the exercise I’d just had the students start. It was pretty straightforward, the students had a text with gaps, and had to choose which words to put into the gaps. Normally, I’d get the answers from them afterwards, and get them to explain what they meant. Which would normally be fine, until I spotted that one of the words to be used was besides, and it was supposed to fit in the last gap. And I asked myself: What the hell does besides actually mean!?
Me Fail English? That’s Unpossible!
In recent years, some news stories have emerged from Australia of would-be Irish immigrants failing the English test required for entrance, the IELTS General-Training exam.
One of the most common responses to such stories is to laugh: Ha, serves them right, how can they not even pass a basic English test if they’re English speakers!
But the situation is a little more complex than that.