Saturday, 22 June 2013

what is a 'native speaker' of english?

It's a difficult thing to define: where to start?

Firstly, what is a 'native speaker' of any language?
In some countries such as KenyaIndia, and various East Asian countries, "mother language" or "native language" is used to indicate the language of one'sethnic group, in both common and journalistic parlance (e.g. "I have no apologies for not learning my mother tongue"), rather than one's first language. Also in Singapore, "mother tongue" refers to the language of one's ethnic group regardless of actual proficiency, while the "first language" refers to the English language that was established on the island through British colonisation, which is the lingua franca for most post-independence Singaporeans due to its use as the language of instruction in government schools and as a working language.
One can have two or more native languages, thus being a native bilingual or indeed multilingual. The order in which these languages are learned is not necessarily the order of proficiency. Other examples are IndiaMalaysia and South Africa, where most people speak more than one language.
First language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's an interesting on-line discussion:
How would you define "native speaker of english"?

And here's a more academic study:

Native speaker: A unitary fantasy of a diverse reality
Posted October 23rd, 2012 by webadmin
Date: Thu, 2004-01-01
Writer(s): Mitsuo Kubota, Kansai Gaidai University

The use of the term "native speaker" has been critically discussed in the field of teaching English (e.g., Davies, 1991; Kachru & Nelson, 1996; Paikeday, 1985; Phillipson, 1992; Rampton, 1990). This article attempts to examine the term as it is used in an EFL context as well as raise awareness about the multiplicity of the term. Five major factors defining a native speaker are then put forward followed by a brief discussion of a study which investigated the construct of a native speaker of English (NES) among university students in Japan, as well as their model speaker for learning English.
What is a Native English Speaker?
In theoretical linguistics, the native speaker is a person who is qualified to judge the grammaticality of sentences (Chomsky, 1965). In the SLA (Second Language Acquisition) studies, the native speaker provides the target models for learning. However, the term has not been defined clearly in either of these fields, yet it has been used widely as if it is a self-explanatory term. In response to this situation, some researchers (e.g., Kachru and Nelson, 1996; Paikeday, 1985; Rampton, 1990) have asserted that the casual use of the term "native speaker" needs to be questioned and problematized. After reviewing the literature regarding the term, I have isolated five defining issues for a NES:
1. whether the person acquired English from birth (Davies, 1991; Liu, 1999; Paikeday, 1985; Phillipson, 1992)
2. whether the person is a competent speaker (Davies, 1991; Paikeday, 1985; Rampton, 1990)
3. whether the person acquired English formally through education or informally through daily use (Davies, 1991; Liu, 1990; Phillipson, 1992)
4. what variety of English the person uses (Davies, 1991; Kachru & Nelson, 1996; McConnell, 2000)
5. the race of the person (Amin, 1997; Kachru & Nelson, 1996; Liu, 1999; Lummis, 1975; Tsuda, 1990).
Keeping the above criteria in mind, I asked Japanese university students about their definition of a NES and their model for learning English. Based on the findings, I will discuss what needs to be considered in terms of the definition and the target for learning English in the Japanese context.
The Study
The participants were 260 Japanese university sophomores majoring in English. Because the university has a large number of English teachers and international students, many of whom the participants consider to be NESs, it is reasonable to say that the participants in the present study have exposure to NESs.
These Japanese university students define a NES as a person who acquired English from birth onward. The participants report neither the variety of English that the person speaks nor the race of the person as important defining criteria. The important issue is whether the person uses English continuously in at least one domain of their daily life. Their model for learning English is similar to their definition of a NES, however, criteria such as being a speaker of the Inner Circle and lack of a foreign accent seem to be important.

The second-largest English-speaking country is India:
Is India or US the biggest English-speaking country? | Antimoon Forum
List of countries by English-speaking population - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The rapid growth of India's economy towards the end of the 20th century led to large-scale population migration between regions of the Indian subcontinent and the establishment of English as a common lingua franca between those speaking diverse mother tongues.
Indian English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
And as such, Indians not only speak excellent English:
"An English-speaking Indian has native-like intuition in English, unlike a Chinese for whom English is assembled by a more academic thought process. For an Indian, English is more like an adjunct native language. We do some of our thinking in our Indian language and other things in English — that is, we have a native competence that spans two or more languages. No wonder we do so well in Toefl."
Indians beat English at their language - Times Of India
But it is replacing 'local' languages:
In Bangalore and elsewhere in Big City India, factors like great mobility, a demanding school system and mixed marriages are churning up a startling consequence: a generation of urban children is growing up largely monolingual — speaking, thinking and dreaming only in English.
“How do we define Ahana’s mother tongue?” asks Mr. Nagaraj. He speaks Kannada with his mother; his wife speaks Bengali with hers. Both grandmothers live nearby and attempt to converse with Ahana in their respective tongues. But she responds only in English.
It is an issue that at once cheers and distresses an entire band of middle-class Indians.
On the one hand, English has opened the doors to great job mobility in the past decade and much economic success. In a country of so many varied languages, English is the only linguistic commonality. Yet as the language increasingly becomes the de facto mother tongue in urban families, many are dismayed at the trend, contending that its rampant use will strip them of their sense of Indian-ness. 
“English is unifying us with the rest of the world but alienating us from our familial and cultural roots,” says Mr. Nagaraj, who still turns to Kannada metaphors when he needs to drive home a point.
India's New 'English Only' Generation -

English is an official language in most former British colonies:
List of countries where English is an official language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
But not in Malaysia:
The official language of Malaysia is Malaysian,[2] a standardised form of the Malay language.[182] Historically English was the de facto administrative language, with Malay becoming predominant after the 1969 race riots.[183] English remains an active second language, and serves as the medium of instruction for maths and sciences in all public schools.[184][185] Malaysian English, also known as Malaysian Standard English, is a form of English derived from British English.
Malaysia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
And it should not be confused with the 'Anglosphere' which some see as a rather romantic, backward-looking anti-European notion:
Anglosphere - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English has been chosen often for political reasons:
Nigeria has one of the biggest collection of languages in the world (if not THE biggest), and they use English as the national language, because it's neutral to all the other ones (and it's used as a lingua franca to boot). Some people though have English as a native language in the country.
Can a Nigerian be classified as a Native English speaker? - Yahoo! Answers
Nigerian English - definition and examples of Nigerian English
But it's often a question of education and class:
The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of the country's urban elite, and is not widely spoken in rural areas, which comprise three quarters of the countries population. 
Languages of Nigeria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This can often have racist overtones:
Native English speakers who are of Asian descent or candidates with Asian looks will NOT be consideredNative English speakers (Caucasians ONLY) from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada need apply
Who is a native speaker of English?- eChinacities Answers |
This paper argues that the English Language Teaching (ELT) industryoften does not treat all speakers of English as equal in its hiring practices.Rather, it gives preferential treatment to White native speakers of English.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


"It is a really fundamental question how architecture is different from nature, or how architecture could be part of nature, or how they could be merged...what are the boundaries between nature and artificial things." Sou Fujimoto 

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 is designed by multi award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto

He is the thirteenth and, at 41, youngest architect to accept the invitation to design a temporary structure for the Serpentine Gallery. The most ambitious architectural programme of its kind worldwide, the Serpentine's annual Pavilion commission is one of the most anticipated events on the cultural calendar. Past Pavilions have included designs by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei (2012), Frank Gehry (2008), the late Oscar Niemeyer (2003) and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural structure in 2000. 

Serpentine Gallery: OPENING WEEK Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto Until 20 October 2013

Serpentine Gallery becomes Serpen-Tron with radical new pavilion

It looks like a 1980s vision of a computer mainframe or a 3D garden trellis on steroids. But will Sou Fujimoto's amazing grid be able to cope with rain and other humdrum British realities?
Link to video: Sou Fujimoto on the Serpentine pavilion 2013

A cloud appears to have dropped out of the sky and landed among the trees in Kensington Gardens, in west London. This hazy lattice of spindly white rods, which hovers above the ground like a digital apparition, is the 13th annual Serpentine Gallery pavilion, designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. At 41, Fujimoto is the youngest architect to be selected for the commission, and he brings a fresh, experimental energy to the project.
"I wanted to create a structure that was somewhere between architecture and nature," he says, "something like the primitive beginnings of a building."
His pavilion is not composed of walls or roofs, but rather is seemingly grown from a steel matrix that extends upwards and outwards in all directions, like a garden trellis on steroids. It forms a shape-shifting mass with no discernible edges. Here and there, it rises into pert peaks and swells outwards in dramatic overhangs; from other angles, it appears to slump like a deflated meringue.
Serpentine Gallery becomes Serpen-Tron with radical new pavilion | Art and design |

'This is, quite simply, the best summer Pavilion there's been at the Serpentine' - Time Out 

Serpentine Gallery: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei 1 June - 14 October 2012

And more from Ai WeiWei:

He has since distanced himself from this project:
China artist Ai Weiwei says he regrets designing Beijing Olympics Bird's Nest - Telegraph

But the Chinese government still loves it:
Introduction of Tourist Attractions - 国家体育场官方网站

For something completely different:

For 10 years, Ben Law lived in tents and caravans in a wood in West Sussex. As a woodsman, he needed and wanted to live among the trees, but now he wants a house for some creature comforts. Ben has invited volunteers to help him build a sustainable house by hand, from the materials growing around him.
Grand Designs - Sussex - The Woodsmans Cottage - YouTube

I felt the need to put this video from Grand Designs, this is without any doubt the best design on the program and aparantly the favorite also to Kevin McCloud. For more information about this house project and the man behind it visit Ben Law Woodsman
The Woodman's Cottage - YouTube

A very popular TV series:
Grand Designs - Channel 4



art questions

The Business of Art. 

Robert Hughes: The Business of Art. Damien Hirst is all hype - YouTube

And if you're interested, his series on modern art:
The Shock of the New - Ep. 1 - The Mechanical Paradise - Robert Hughes - YouTube

But is this 'art'?

Banksy vs Bristol Museum - YouTube

Are you asked to 'exit through the gift shop' before you leave the gallery?
exit through the gift shop - YouTube

And can street art be 'political'?

banksy - YouTube

And it this acceptable?

Massive “Burn In Hell Maggie” Graffiti Appears In Central London [PIC] |
Margaret Thatcher dead: 'Burn in hell!' graffiti spotted in central London 'Banksy tunnel' | Daily Mail Online

Burn In Hell Maggie Graffiti Removed At Leake Street « The London Vandal
Workmen paint over 'Burn in Hell Maggie' graffiti | London - ITV News

Monday, 17 June 2013


Google Art Project is an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner museums. The project was launched on 1 February 2011 by Google, in cooperation with 17 international museums, including the Tate Gallery, London; theMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; and the Uffizi, Florence.[1]
The platform enables users to virtually tour partner museums’ galleries, explore physical and contextual information about artworks, and compile their own virtual collection. The "walk-through" feature of the project uses Google'sStreet View technology.[2] The images of many of the artworks were reproduced with very high quality, and each partner museum selected one artwork to be captured as a gigapixel image (with over 1 billion pixels).
on YouTube:
Google Art Project - YouTube

Art Project - Teaser - YouTube

Take a virtual tour

Wherever you see the yellow “pegman” icon on the site, simply click to take a virtual tour of a cultural location.

Cultural Institute – Google

go to collections and click on the yellow 'pegman' to go on the virtual tour
Collections - Google Cultural Institute
for example:
Acropolis Museum - Google Cultural Institute

Ai Weiwei Uniliver Series 2010

The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds
Tate Modern: Exhibition
12 October 2010 – 2 May 2011
Sunflower Seeds is made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain. 
Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.
Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.
The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds | Tate
Ai Weiwei: Sunflower seeds - YouTube

Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern, London - YouTube

Friday, 14 June 2013

This is a website (and magazine) for speakers of German.
There are lots of different pieces of different length and level.
This example can be found at: Bank of Dave | Spotlight Online

Bank of Dave

Page 1 of 3 (33 %)
David Fishwick is frustrated with the banking crisis. "Fifty billion quid! How can you lose 50 billion quid and still pay bonuses?" he asks.
Lancashire businessman David Fishwick is the largest supplier ofminivans in the UK. When the recession hit Britain, many of David's customers found it difficult to get the loans they needed from high-street banks. David knew and trusted his customers and wanted to help them. He decided to set up a bank in Burnley, where he lives.
To start a bank, David needed a license from the Financial Services Authority. But the FSA wouldn't even meet with him unless he put millions of pounds into an account that he could never use. Although he didn't have the license to call himself a bank, he did get the necessary documentation to lend money to his customers.
Then, seeing how little interest people were being offered on their savings, he began looking for a way to make customers' savings work harder for them. With the help of lawyers, he found a way to offer people 5% on their savings. In September 2011, Burnley Savings and Loans Ltd opened its doors under the slogan "Bank on Dave!"
The money people save with David's bank is used to provide business and personal loans in the community. The staff at Burnley Savings and Loans don't get bonuses. Any profits made, after the overheads are paid, are given to charity.
Meet David Fishwick in this short trailer for the Channel 4 programme Bank of Dave:
Now try the exercise on the next page.
Dagmar Taylor

Together with a video from YouTube:

Bank of Dave: Dave Fishwick How I Took On the Banks - YouTube

So, there's a lot of help with vocab, as well as useful language tips.
And you don't have to be a German speaker to benefit.
Have fun!

english-language news media - part two

Why does English-language news media have to come from the UK or US?

In a previous posting Jay Doubleyou: english-language news media
this was suggested:
Al Jazeera English - Live US, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Sports, Weather & Business News

And a relatively new station is:
RT, also known as Russia Today, is an international multilingual Russian-based television network. It is registered as an autonomous non-profit organization[2][3]funded by the federal budget of Russia through the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation.[4][5]

Objectivity and bias

After the 2005 announcement the station would be launched, the U.S. government-owned Voice of America (VOA)[100]interviewed Anton Nosik, chief editor of, who said the creation of Russia Today "smacks of Soviet-style propaganda campaigns."[101] A representative of Reporters Without Borders called the newly announced network “another step of the state to control information.”[102] In 2009 Luke Harding in The Guardian described Russia Today's advertising campaign in the United Kingdom as an "ambitious attempt to create a new post-Soviet global propaganda empire."[34]
In 2010 The Independent reported that RT journalists had revealed that coverage of sensitive issues in Russia is allowed, but direct criticism of Vladimir Putin or then President Dmitry Medvedev is not.[24] Masha Karp wrote in Standpoint magazine that contemporary Russian issues "such as the suppression of free speech and peaceful demonstrations, or the economic inefficiency and corrupt judiciary, are either ignored or their significance played down".[103] In 2008 Stephen Heyman wrote in the New York Times that in RT’s Russia, “corruption is not quite a scourge but a symptom of a developing economy.”[22]
Russians also have been critical of RT. Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky criticized RT as "a part of the Russian industry of misinformation and manipulation".[104] Andrey Illarionov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, has labeled the channel as "the best Russian propaganda machine targeted at the outside world. On the other hand, prominent Russian officials such as Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov are strong advocates of RT."[68]
James Kirchick in The New Republic accused the network of "often virulent anti-Americanism, worshipful portrayal of Russian leaders."[105] Ed Lucas wrote in The Economist (quoted in Al Jazeera) that the core of RT was "anti-Westernism."[106] Julia Ioffe wrote "Often, it seemed that Russia Today was just a way to stick it to the U.S. from behind the façade of legitimate newsgathering."[32] Shaun Walker wrote in The Independent that RT "has made a name for itself as a strident critic of US policy."[107] Allesandra Stanley in The New York Times wrote that RT is "like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant."[48] David Weigel writes that RT goes further than merely creating distrust of the United States government, to saying, in effect: "You can trust the Russians more than you can trust those bastards."[30]

Much less politically controversial is, from Germany:
and, from the Czech Republic:

Does your country have its own English-language news media?
More examples:

Again, it can be very political:

November 7, 2011 8:28 pm

China to expand English language TV service

China’s state-owned broadcaster has launched an aggressive international push to extend the country’s influence, opening a new headquarters in Washington that will broadcast English-language programming from the heart of the US capital.
China Central Television, which produces the ruling Communist party’s news shows and other propaganda programmes, is constructing a studio in Washington which will serve as its US broadcasting centre. It aims to begin broadcasting from the site by the middle of 2012 and produce up to six hours of original programming a day, according to people familiar with the plans.

And there's also a very big question:
What do we mean by 'native' as opposed to 'non-native' English-language news media?

Nigeria is one of the world's largest English-speaking countries: