Daily Archives: March 4, 2008

How good is your English?

I am currently, and belatedly, getting on with the business of the literacy tests I am marking, using an instrument I adapted from an online test some years ago. The test very clearly highlights problems second-language English learners may present, but even native speakers rarely score 100%. It is in two parts: a multiple choice test that targets particular aspects of grammar, and a writing task that requires deployment, among other things, of just about the full range of tense and modality.

If you are curious, you can try it for yourselves. The test and answers are in a password-protected file, and yes, you may ask for the password via the contact page. Occasionally more than one answer is right in the multiple choice section.

I have administered this test, or its earlier versions, to over 1,500 students in the past decade.


Posted by on March 4, 2008 in education


John Howard has just been elected…

… in Frank Welsh’s Great Southern Land (Penguin 2004/5), which I am nearing the end of; I propose later a few small gems from this history which I have found genuinely informative as well as often entertaining.

It can rile some though. Take Australian poet John Kinsella.

Rarely have I been so angry over the publication of a book as I am over Frank Welsh’s Great Southern Land: A New History of Australia. In the past, if I have had to negatively review a book I’ve felt a pang of regret. This book is the exception. Welsh’s so-called history is a disgrace.

It is not so because it is a history of Australia written by a non-Australian. In fact, there should be more of those. It is a disgrace primarily because of the way this book deals with Australia’s indigenous people. Though he gives the impression at times of being anti-racist and deeply humanist, Welsh is a classic apologist for the invasion and occupation of the Australian landmass.

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Posted by on March 4, 2008 in Australia, Best read of 2008, Indigenous Australians, Kevin Rudd, reading