Sunday, September 18, 2016

Just How Tasty is Englicious?

I just became a member of (username n.moore). It cost me nothing and offers a range of calorie-free menus full of in-class information and activities linking the ever-spectacular Survey of English Usage with the UK national curriculum for English, including samples of tests.
I found out about it because of an advert for a job. The site organisers are looking for someone to update the site. Cos... Damn! It needs it! It is white, or yellow, or red on black - never good on the eyes - and while I would rarely disagree with the information it provides, it is kinda - how can you say this politely? - DULL! The classroom activities provide a variety of activities to raise awareness of the many categories of grammar in the menus which can be ordered by level, grammar, and activity type as well as being fully searchable. As you can imagine, all examples are taken from 'the Survey' and represent authentic language use.  I hope this is a work-in-progress and that 'the Survey' can find someone who will be able to develop the resources here further.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Caldas-Coulthard & Iedema: Identity Trouble - Critical Discourse and Contested Identities

At last! A group of writers who are willing to take on the notion of identity and reveal how so many authors have not interrogated its basis in theory. Caldas-Coulthard & Iedema have gathered together some key perspectives on Identity that help to expose its fragile foundations. Highlights for me were Lemke and Skeggs who take nothing for granted. My only real complaint is that I think there were still a few 'filler' chapters by writers who are happy not to be troubled by, or to trouble, identity.
One of my lazier Goodreads reviews.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Butler - Gender Trouble

Not really what I expected from such an influential writer. As a book intended to promote gender rights I found it very excluding as a non-LGBTQ reader. "But we are excluded from all straight theory" would be a response that endorses the exclusion. With, imho, an over-emphasis on (post-)psychoanalytic theory, the message is lost in the minutae. An anticlimax.
Not much of a Goodreads review, but there you  go.

IVACS 2016

Sincere thanks go to the organiser(s) of IVACS2016, at Bath Spa University, UK with the theme of 'Corpora and Context' (also see here for IVACS). The conference was well attended and ran very smoothly. Both plenary speakers were able to contribute clear and original perspective to the field of the study of language varieties using corpus methods, and the conference featured a wide range of high quality presentations. I was delighted to offer a session called 'The co-text and context of research into identity in applied linguistics' (see the Prezi below).

Two projects in particular were well represented at the conference. The first was the English Profile project, supported by Cambridge Examinations, which uses examination scripts to map grammatical errors and thus specify which structures students should show mastery over at which CEFR stage. The methodology for this corpus investigation was both  rigorous and original. A clear conclusion from this project was that this progression is only very roughly correlated with the sequence of structures presented in the majority of language teaching coursebooks. The project team has given feedback to CUP, so we wait to see if the publishing industry can respond to these important findings. (Don't hold your breath!!).
The second project that was described over a number of sessions was the CorCenCC (Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes - The National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh, a largely spoken Welsh corpus), based at Cardiff University. This is clearly meant to move on from the current corpus of Welsh currently available. Using modern technology to build up the corpus through an innovative smartphone app, the team is struggling with ethical issues relating not to the consent of the data gatherers but their interlocutors. The aim also appears to be to make the corpus relevant and useful to the welsh-speaking community and involve the community as much as possible in the collection, design and exploitation of the corpus.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What's the Point?

"What’s the point? The role of punctuation in realising information structure in written English" has been published online here in Functional Linguistics.
I would like to reproduce the acknowledgements section here:
This article is dedicated to the memory of Geoff Thompson who supervised the PhD thesis from which this paper is derived. Needless to say, the ideas in this paper would not have been realised without his support and encouragement. Sincere thanks are also due to Professors Michael Hoey, David Vernon and Cathy Burnett for further inspiration, discussion and comment, to colleagues past and present at Khalifa and Sheffield Hallam universities, and to the reviewers for Functional Linguistics, although any remaining errors in the paper are entirely my responsibility.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Benedict Anderson: Imagined Communities

Imagined Communities is often cited as the single volume that changed the way that a range of disciplines view nationalism. Written as a response to the failure of Marxist scholars to account for why (typically) men were willing to lay down their life for their country, Anderson equates the nation to a modern religious force in most people's lives, providing them through print and other media technologies with a community that they imagine are carrying out the same activities at the same time in countless locations in the same nation.
I read the whole book (229 pages), from the perspective of critiquing Identity studies, so that I could use this quote: "Out of this estrangement [from one's own unremembered childhood past] comes a conception of personhood, identity (yes, you and that naked baby are identical) which, because it cannot be 'remembered,' must be narrated. Against biology's demonstration that every single cell in a human body is replaced over seven years, the narratives of autobiography and biography flood print-capitalism's markets year by year." (p.204) and write this statement: Anderson (2006) explains in glorious detail how one of the most apparently stable forms of identity - Nationalism - is the product of a particular historical moment, conducive to the economic transformation from imperial state, supported by divine right, to capitalist state, supported by economic might, enabled by mass education, print literacy and linguistic imperialism.
So worth it!!
(This last bit is from my review)
As a footnote, I found this obituary on the author, but there are plenty of others.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

IJLS Special Issues

Two special issues of the International Journal of Language Studies focusing on Systemic Functional Linguistics have recently been published.

Volume 10 no.2 is entitled "Systemic Functional Linguistics and (Critical) Discourse Analysis"
It features the following papers:

  • Teresa OTEIZA & Claudio PINUER: Appraisal framework and critical discourse studies: A joint approach to the study of historical memories from an intermodal perspective
  • Felipe Leandro de JESUS, Debora de Carvalho FIGUEIREDO & Fabio Santiago NASCIMENTO: Screening the unspeakable: The representation of gender/sex roles and same-sex love in Brokeback Mountain
  • Viviane HEBERLE & Marcos MORGADO: Discussing the representation of immigrants: An integrated view from SFL, CDA and Multimodality
  • Hector J. MCQUEEN: Exploring the intonation of appraised items in one speech by Obama: The case of prominence
  • Lucia Ines RIVAS & Miriam Patricia GERMANI: Analysing correlations between generic patterns and prosodic realizations in interviews in English
  • Tazanfal TEHSEEM: Investigating character construal of rape victims in Pakistani news reporting
Volume 10 no.3 is entitled "Systemic Functional Linguistics and Education"
It features the following papers:

  • Lucia ZUPPA & Susana REZZANO: The construction of the role of the teachers in academic articles on ICT and education
  • Susan HOOD & Jo LANDER: Technologies, modes and pedagogic potential in live versus online lectures 
  • Mark Shiu-kee SHUM, Dan SHI & Chung-pui TAI: The effectiveness of using 'reading to learn, learning to write' pedagogy in teaching Chinese to non-Chinese speaking students in Hong Kong
  • Mary MACKEN-HORARIK & Carmel SANDIFORD: Diagnosing development: A grammatics for tracking student progress in narrative composition
  • Maria Susana GONZALEZ: Discussion and challenge: Linguistic resources
Both of these issues are available for FREE from the IJLS Academia page.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Evaluating Integrating English with EEF

Enfield Council sponsored a project that used the LILAC (Language in learning across the curriculum) training programme to improve learning in all subjects for their EAL (English as an Additional Language) students. They were really pleased with the results, and wondered if the programme would work across the country. With significant help from the Bell Foundation, the Education Endowment Foundation have chosen the project as one of their approaches to researching EAL students.
I am very honoured to be part of the evaluation team at Sheffield Hallam University. There are more details in the form below and from this page.