Monday, 30 March 2015

dialects and minority languages

The Swiss are very proud of their dialects:

Bligg - Mundart (Lyrics) - YouTube

But High German is being imposed on children at school:
Switzerland - Educational System—overview - German, Speaking, Swiss, and School -

Which is how some people feel how English has been imposed on children in their schools in Wales:
How the Welsh language has been destroyed by English governments

In France, for example, language is also very political:
BBC - Languages - Languages
Languages of France - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But there is the wider question of whether 'minority languages' have a future:
Can Minority Languages Be Saved? Globalization vs. Culture
Are dying languages worth saving? - BBC News
Minority language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Should such languages and dialects be recognised in the school system?

It's been very controversial in the States:
Oakland School District Recognizes Black English - Los Angeles Times
African American Vernacular English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Do You Speak American . Sea to Shining Sea . American Varieties . AAVE . Hooked | PBS

What about the teacher and student of English as a second language?
Dialects in Schools and Communities

Here's an excellent list of questions for the ESOL classroom:
ESL Conversation Questions - Languages (I-TESL-J)

where to go for some english grammar... future forms

There are general grammar websites:

But there are also specific places to go...

Here are some sites for future forms:

But the future forms in English are rather confusing:

The British Council is a good place to go.
Here is an excellent video which explains a lot:

Here's another nice little video:

where to go for some english grammar... conditionals

There are plenty of places to go to help you with your grammar:
Jay Doubleyou: where to go for some english grammar...

Lots of grammar exercises:
Grammar Reference | LearnEnglish | British Council | Conditionals 1
Second Conditional Exercise 1
Second Conditional in English - Exercise 2 | English conditional tenses practice
Second Conditional | EnglishClub
ENGLISH PAGE - Conditional Tutorial

The BBC Learning English website present lots of more dynamic stuff:
BBC World Service | Learning English | Grammar Challenge
BBC World Service | Learning English | Grammar Challenge
BBC World Service | Learning English | The Flatmates - Language Point 24

Here's a nice little video:

Published on 26 Jun 2012
Learn how to use the English second conditional with this animated video. You can find more of our English classes here:
Interested in taking English classes via Skype? Visit our website and register for a free class:

Learn the English Second Conditional - English Classes - YouTube

With more animated stuff here:
Jay Doubleyou: grammar songs worksheets from esl printables

where to go for some english grammar...

There are specific websites for different language groups.

For example, for German speakers:
Learning English - Exercises, Grammar, Vocabulary, Exams

Onestop English is always good:
Grammar focus: Plants | Onestopenglish

Here is a good general website:

Image result for perfect english grammar


What would you like to do?

For example, you can...
... or look at the menu to choose the grammar point you are interested in.
Hope you like the site! 

Perfect English Grammar

But you can learn English other ways:
Index of exercises, categorised according to grammar, vocabulary, etc.

And you don't need to learn too much grammar either:

Published on 11 Mar 2015
I’m constantly going on about the detrimental effect of English grammar studies on one’s fluency.

I’m not saying that English grammar is bad though, and I’m not saying you should completely ignore it.

Watch this video to find out what exactly I mean by saying – “don’t study English grammar!”

Download FREE eBook HERE and deal with your Fluency Issues!

Check out my English Harmony System here:

Would you like me to teach you fluent English over Skype? Check out the Fluency Star program here:

Subscribe to my English Harmony Channel:

Subscribe to my Accent Adventure Channel:

What Exactly I Mean By Saying “Don’t Study English Grammar” - YouTube

Monday, 23 March 2015

finnish schools are the best

The Finns are up there at the top of the PISA ranking:
Jay Doubleyou: panic in the west over educational achievements in the far east

But their methods are far from 'traditional':
Jay Doubleyou: rote learning

The effect is certainly better than in Britain:
Jay Doubleyou: education in the uk - high university intake - low literacy rates

So, the British have been learning from the Finns:
Finland's schools flourish in freedom and flexibility | World news | The Guardian
How Finnish schools shine | Teacher Network | The Guardian

This is the latest idea from Finland - one which is already being used in the ESOL classroom:

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system

With Finland radically reforming the way its children are taught, Richard Garner visits Helsinki to find out if the teachers approve

Friday 20 March 2015

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme.

Pasi Silander, the city’s development manager, explained: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.

“Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed.

“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”

Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.

More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.

There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager – who will be presenting her blueprint for change to the council at the end of this month, said: “It is not only Helsinki but the whole of Finland who will be embracing change.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow.

Pupils at Siltamaki primary school perform a rap as part of their cross-subject learning (Jussi Helttunen)
“There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.”

The reforms reflect growing calls in the UK – not least from the Confederation of British Industry and Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt – for education to promote character, resilience and communication skills, rather than just pushing children through “exam factories”.

But there would currently be little appetite in the UK for going as far as ditching traditional subjects.

Even in Finland, the reforms have met objections from teachers and heads – many of whom have spent their lives focusing on a particular subject only to be told to change their approach.

Ms Kyllonen has been advocating a “co-teaching” approach to lesson planning, with input from more than one subject specialist. Teachers who embrace this new system can receive a small top-up in salary.

About 70 per cent of the city’s high school teachers have now been trained in adopting the new approach, according to Mr Silander.

“We have really changed the mindset,” he said. “It is quite difficult to get teachers to start and take the first step… but teachers who have taken to the new approach say they can’t go back.”

Early data shows that students are benefiting too. In the two years since the new teaching methods first began being introduced, pupil “outcomes” – they prefer that word to standards – have improved.

Finnish schools are obliged to introduce a period of “phenomenon-based teaching” at least once a year. These projects can last several weeks. In Helsinki, they are pushing the reforms at a faster pace with schools encouraged to set aside two periods during the year for adopting the new approach. Ms Kyllonen’s blueprint, to be published later this month, envisages the reforms will be in place across all Finnish schools by 2020.

Meanwhile, the pre-school sector is also embracing change through an innovative project, the Playful Learning Centre, which is engaged in discussions with the computer games industry about how it could help introduce a more “playful” learning approach to younger children.

“We would like to make Finland the leading country in terms of playful solutions to children’s learning,” said Olavi Mentanen, director of the PLC project,

The eyes of the education world will be upon Finland as it opts for change: will it be able to retain or improve its showing in the PISA league tables published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

If it does, how will the rest of the education world react?
Case study: Finnish approach

It is an English lesson, but there is a map of continental Europe on the whiteboard. The children must combine weather conditions with the different countries displayed on the board. For instance, today it is sunny in Finland and foggy in Denmark. This means the pupils combine the learning of English with geography.

Welcome to Siltamaki primary school in Helsinki – a school with 240 seven- to 12-year-olds – which has embraced Finland’s new learning style. Its principal, Anne-Mari Jaatinen, explains the school’s philosophy: “We want the pupils to learn in a safe, happy, relaxed and inspired atmosphere.”

We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system - Europe - World - The Independent

Monday, 16 March 2015

english harmony

Robbie from English Harmony has some great tips:
EnglishHarmony - YouTube

Several have been used on this blog:
Jay Doubleyou: practicing english with yourself
Jay Doubleyou: speaking fluently

On his website, he's got the transcript to his videos:
English Harmony | Improve Spoken English | English Confidence System

He is not conventional...

He doesn't like grammar:

What Exactly I Mean By Saying "Don’t Study English Grammar" | English Harmony

Context is everything:

Importance of Contextual Learning -- How Words Hook Up With Each Other in Spoken English - YouTube

Traditional methods are not the best:

Is English Harmony GOOD and All the Rest is BAD? - YouTube

youtube channels for your english: pick a topic

There are many places to go to improve your English:
Jay Doubleyou: learn english on youtube

You really just need to chose your favourite topic and go for it.

For example:
Football Daily - YouTube

And this week they were talking about:
Manchester United vs Arsenal Combined XI? | #FDW Q+A - YouTube

You will find a channel for everything on the far left of the YouTube home page

... whether TV shows:
TV Shows - YouTube

... or browsing all the channels:
YouTube- channels

practicing english with yourself

How can you speak English more fluently?
Jay Doubleyou: speaking fluently

Here are some more good ideas from English Harmony:

Uploaded on 22 Feb 2011
Watch this video: if you find spoken English self-practice boring! Do you lack real-life communication with other English speakers? Are you mostly exposed to passive English language input with very little speaking opportunities? If you want to improve your English fluency, you have to take matters into your own hands and start practicing English with yourself! It's easier than you think, it's efficient and it's going to improve your spoken English big time!

Practicing English with Yourself - Part 1 - YouTube