Thursday, 30 January 2014

what's your favourite film?

Your favourite is probably not in this list - but what a list:

The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time

846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors have voted – and the 50-year reign of Kane is over. Our critics’ poll has a new number one.


Ian Christie rings in the changes in our biggest-ever poll.
And the loser is – Citizen Kane. After 50 years at the top of the Sight & Sound poll, Orson Welles’s debut film has been convincingly ousted by Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th feature Vertigo – and by a whopping 34 votes, compared with the mere five that separated them a decade ago. So what does it mean? Given that Kane actually clocked over three times as many votes this year as it did last time, it hasn’t exactly been snubbed by the vastly larger number of voters taking part in this new poll, which has spread its net far wider than any of its six predecessors.
But it does mean that Hitchcock, who only entered the top ten in 1982 (two years after his death), has risen steadily in esteem over the course of 30 years, with Vertigo climbing from seventh place, to fourth in 1992, second in 2002 and now first, to make him the Old Master. Welles, uniquely, had two films (The Magnificent Ambersons as well as Kane) in the list in 1972 and 1982, but now Ambersons has slipped to 81st place in the top 100.
So does 2012 – the first poll to be conducted since the internet became almost certainly the main channel of communication about films – mark a revolution in taste, such as happened in 1962? Back then a brand-new film, Antonioni’s L’avventura, vaulted into second place. If there was going to be an equivalent today, it might have been Malick’s The Tree of Life, which only polled one vote less than the last title in the top 100. In fact the highest film from the new century is Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, just 12 years old, now sharing joint 24th slot with Dreyer’s venerable Ordet…
Ian Christie’s full essay on changing fashions on our new poll is published in the September 2012 issue of Sight & Sound. Texts below are quotations from our poll entries and magazine coverage of the top ten. Links are to the BFI’s Explore Film section. See Nick James’s poll coverage introduction for details of our methodology, and the ‘further reading’ links at the end of this page.

The Top 50

1. Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock, 1958 (191 votes)
Hitchcock’s supreme and most mysterious piece (as cinema and as an emblem of the art). Paranoia and obsession have never looked better—Marco Müller
After half a century of monopolising the top spot, Citizen Kane was beginning to look smugly inviolable. Call it Schadenfreude, but let’s rejoice that this now conventional and ritualised symbol of ‘the greatest’ has finally been taken down a peg. The accession of Vertigo is hardly in the nature of a coup d’état. Tying for 11th place in 1972, Hitchcock’s masterpiece steadily inched up the poll over the next three decades, and by 2002 was clearly the heir apparent. Still, even ardent Wellesians should feel gratified at the modest revolution – if only for the proof that film canons (and the versions of history they legitimate) are not completely fossilised.
There may be no larger significance in the bare fact that a couple of films made in California 17 years apart have traded numerical rankings on a whimsically impressionistic list. Yet the human urge to interpret chance phenomena will not be denied, and Vertigo is a crafty, duplicitous machine for spinning meaning…—Peter Matthews’ opening to his new essay on Vertigo in our September issue
The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time | BFI
BFI The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But, really,  it should be your favourite film:

Vertigo Trailer (HD) - YouTube

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

krashen quotes

Stephen Krashen has said some very insightful things about learning and teaching language:

"We acquire language when we understand what we hear and read, when
we understand what people are saying to us, not how they say it."

"Consciously learned rules have very limited functions: We use them to
edit what we say and write, but this is hard to do, and sometimes they
can help make input comprehensible, but this is rare."

"We do not acquire language by producing it; only by understanding it."

"The ability to produce is the result of language acquisition, not the

"Even if you live in the country where the language is spoken, it is hard
to get comprehensible input from the "outside world", especially if you
are an adult."

"Language acquisition proceeds best when the input is not just
comprehensible, but really interesting, even compelling; so interesting
that you forget you are listening to or reading another language."

"Language acquisition proceeds best when the acquirer is "open" to the
input, not "on the defensive"; not anxious about performance."

[A big thanks to Julie!]

See also:
Jay Doubleyou: theories of language learning and teaching: input
Jay Doubleyou: theories of language learning and teaching: input part two
Jay Doubleyou: my favourite tv
Jay Doubleyou: second language acquisition

Monday, 27 January 2014

a curvaceous young phoneme called schwa...

A very useful piece from OneStopEnglish and Jim Scrivener:

Skills: teaching phonics: schwa

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type:Teaching notes
The schwa – the only phoneme with its own name – is important for learners to recognise and produce as it is the most common vowel sound in English. Here are some awareness-raising and practice ideas.

Many unstressed vowel sounds tend to become schwa. Because it is a short and unassertive sound there is a danger that in focussing on it in classroom sentences, it might lose its naturally weak character. 
De-schwaed texts
  • Prepare a short text (three or four lines long). Wherever a schwa would be said in a word – insert a gap-line instead of the vowel(s).
  • Leave all other vowels as they are. In class give out the text and explain what you have done.
  • Learners must now go through the text and work out what the missing written vowels must be. This will raise awareness about the many ways that the schwa sound can be spelt in written English.

Stress and unstress
This would follow on well from the previous activity.
  • Hand out a short text and ask learners to go through and mark every syllable that would probably be stressed e.g. "When did you come to this college?"
  • They then practice reading it to each other – but reading only the stressed syllables e.g. "When … come …coll … ?" This will obviously sound odd – but encourage them to really emphasise these syllables and find a sense of rhythm in saying them.
  • The next task is to keep that stress and rhythm – but to insert the other syllables in the spaces between stresses without slowing down too much! This can help learners to get a sense of the important structuring and timing effect that stress has in English; it also encourages them to keep weak syllables weak.

Count the words
  • Record yourself saying about 6 - 10 naturally pronounced sentences at a fast natural speed e.g. "Are you going to give her that present for her birthday?" (Record – rather than read out in class – because you want to offer a consistent pronunciation when you replay it).
  • Take special care not to over-pronounce (i.e. not making weak syllables strong). Ask students to listen and count how many words are in each sentence. They will tend to miss the weak syllables.
  • Replay a few times and encourage students to discuss and agree, maybe "reconstructing" missing words by thinking about the surrounding language.

Learn a limerick
Poems are a good way to pull together some of these ideas. Teach a short poem line by line – modelling it and getting students to repeat it. Make sure rhythm and stress are good. When it's really well learnt, hand out the text and ask students to mark it first with stresses – then with schwas. Here's a silly limerick to close this month's ideas:
A curvaceous young phoneme called schwa,
Said "I never feel strong. It's bizarre!
I'm retiring and meek,
And I always sound weak, 
But in frequency counts – I'm the star!"

Skills: teaching phonics: schwa | Onestopenglish

See also:
Derek Haines Vandal Blog
Teaching the schwa | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC
BBC Learning English | Pronunciation Tips

lots of resources from onestopenglish

A nice website from Macmillan has loads of free stuff for English teachers.
The monthly topical news lessons are free (unlike the weekly lessons...):
Monthly topical news lessons | Onestopenglish

Number one for English language teachers
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Latest weekly news lesson

Weekly news lesson 372: 23rd January 2014: Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn

Thu, 23 Jan 2014
A new scientific study takes greater account of the effects of cloud changes on global warming. The research suggests that the level of future warming will be at the higher end of scientists’ predictions.

Webquest: Chinese New Year

This webquest by Adrian Tennant, published in association with Macmillan’s Discover China series, includes activities on the traditions and food associated with Chinese New Year, as well as the Chinese calendar and zodiac signs. It is free to all onestopenglish ...

Powers in the East

In this lesson, which is based on an article fromBusiness Spotlight, two businessmen, one from Japan, the other from China, talk about the economic challenges Japan and China are facing and dealing with. Teacher’s notes cover strategies for talking about opposites. Student activities include exercises on economic and financial key words and multi-word expressions, and taking part in a role-play involving world leaders.

The Terror of Blue John Gap: Part 1

Part 1 of this horror story introduces us to the narrator and we first hear of the legend of Blue John Gap. In this lesson, the students will: briefly discuss the topic of legendary monsters; listen to a short extract to familiarize themselves with the narrator’s voice and pace; discuss the events of the story and act out a short conversation; listen in detail to a short passage and discuss the importance of sounds in creating atmosphere.

Writing skills: Fables

An enjoyable one-/two-hour lesson as a basis for writing a fable. Students produce an original fable, using narrative target language.

Writing: The reporter game

A game in which students create stories for an imaginary newspaper.

Onestopenglish: Number one for English language teachers