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Category Archives: English studies

Sunday Floating Life photo 33 AND Friday poem 18

Is that confusing enough for you?

Peter Skrzynecki’s “Immigrants at Central Station, 1951” was the subject of my tuition session yesterday. The coachee is doing the ESL course in English. On my way I took some pictures of Central from the perspective of the speaker in the poem – as I read it anyway. (We read the poem carefully so he could see why I had chosen my angles.) Of course it isn’t 1951 any more, but I do vividly remember migrant camps, and Central Station in the 1950s. What follows the poem is a sketch commentary around that HSC topic de jour — “Belonging”.

CIMG3512

Immigrants at Central Station, 1951

It was sad to hear
The train’s whistle this morning
At the railway station.
All night it had rained.
The air was crowded
With a dampness that slowly
Sank into our thoughts –
But we ate it all:
The silence, the cold, the benevolence
Of empty streets.

Time waited anxiously with us
Behind upturned collars
And space hemmed us
Against each other
Like cattle bought for slaughter.

Families stood
With blankets and packed cases –
Keeping children by their sides,
Watching pigeons
That watched them.

But it was sad to hear
The train’s whistle so suddenly –
To the right of our shoulders
Like a word of command.
The signal at the platform’s end
Turned red and dropped
Like a guillotine –
Cutting us off from the space of eyesight

While time ran ahead
Along glistening tracks of steel.

Peter Skrzynecki’s “Immigrants at Central Station” describes a family who with other families has just arrived in Sydney from a migrant camp in western NSW. The poem is about the poet’s own family. As well as describing the scene, the poet tells us a lot about their feeling of not belonging in this new place and their fears about the future.

Their journey to Sydney had been through a night of rain, cutting them off from the landscape they were passing through, making them feel uncomfortable, and echoing their feelings

The air was crowded

With a dampness that slowly

Sank into our thoughts –

The families each huddle together not just for warmth but also because the only sense of belonging they have left is to the family and their few possessions represented by their luggage. In this city whose cold “benevolence” has controlled their lives for years now they feel anxious and lonely. They do not know anyone in those “empty streets”. They don’t even really know where they are going next, or what it will be like when they get there. They feel like “cattle bought for slaughter” or people about to face the guillotine. They have had very little choice in life up to now. But there is nothing they can do except to accept what they are given.

But we ate it all:

The silence, the cold, the benevolence

Of empty streets.

The whistle of the departing train which had left them at Central is a “sad” sound – the poet uses the word twice. The tracks back to where they came from are also tracks into their future. Like the steel of a guillotine blade the tracks are “glistening tracks of steel”. It could be though that the last image offers a little hope, as “glistening” does suggest light.

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— Photos – Neil Whitfield 1 November 2009

 

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Reading Jasper Fforde

A couple of years back my former Sydney University boss Ken Watson recommended Jasper Fforde to me.

fforde

Now at last I have read one of his amazing books, The Well of Lost Plots.

Imagine Little Britain meets the Cambridge Companion to English Literature + literary theory. Hilarious. The Wuthering Heights anger management day is just one gem of many.

 

A five-finger exercise

While my coachee slaved away on a Trial HSC English Advanced paper this morning I undertook to answer the creative writing question from our previous session: “Select one of the following quotations. Use this quotation as a catalyst for your own piece of writing on belonging.” I think I rather overdid the thematic side, but I was hoping to demonstrate how this rather artificial task may be done. It isn’t fiction, but that’s in the parameters given.

c) “My fondest childhood memories”

When you think about it there is a lot of truth in the old Catholic saying “Give me a child to the age of seven and I will show you the man.” By that age our sense of identity, which is so much shaped by our sense of belonging to family, home, town and country, are basically set – if not in stone, at least firmly enough that escape if needed is quite difficult.

In my case my grandfather rather than my father was the key influence. My father, you see, was rarely home, being overseas with the RAAF, so my family were living with my grandparents, and the one who had time for me most was my grandfather.

My grandfather was a retired teacher. I don’t know how he did it, can’t remember, but before I went to school I could already read and tell the time. This led to early alienation in Kindergarten. Invited in week one to “write” on the blackboard I wrote “Sydney Morning Herald” and the date. I gather the teacher was not amused and rang my mother to complain – strange as that may seem.

He was a mine of information, my grandfather, and I was a hyper-inquisitive child. Once he was gardening and I asked him: “What are snails for?” He stood up and took me round the garden, showing me snails, describing their life-cycle, their means of locomotion and their feeding habits and why, if we wanted our lettuces, he had to get rid of them. “Yes,” I replied with precocious analytical skills, “but what are they FOR?” Since the metaphysics of the snail was not something that had occurred to him he became uncharacteristically short with me and called out to my mother, “Get this bloody kid out of here!”

I never have found out what snails are for, but I guess they fit into the web of life. Even snails belong, don’t they?

Another thing about my grandfather was that he talked to just about everybody. He was genuinely interested in their lives and what they did. I would accompany him on his walks and get impatient as he stopped at this fence or that gate to chat to someone for what seemed like hours to me. I was not displeased though when he would climb over the railway fence to chat to the driver of the milk train when it was waiting at the siding for the express train to go through. There were steam engines in those days and I was enthralled standing on the tracks with my grandfather as the fireman and driver leaned down from the cab to share finer points of their trade.

On the other hand, so I am told, when my father at last returned from overseas my first words to him were “Get that man out of here!” (Perhaps I learned the expression from my grandfather.) To me my father was the picture on the dressing table, not this large imposter who had suddenly disrupted my life, just when I had my mother pretty much in control. What this may have done to our relationship, indeed to my father’s recovery of his belonging, I can now only guess – but it did rather colour our later lives.

You can see what a network one close relative can set up for you in those formative years. With my grandfather I explored so many aspects of my environment and he was, you could say, my map-maker. Through him were developing all those templates of background, culture and place which shape so much where “I” fits in – belongs, indeed.

There are many other stories I could tell of my grandfather. Did I mention he only had one eye? No? But that is another story.

I was 21 when my grandfather died. He had mentored me in so many ways, easing the pain of high school maths, answering my incessant questions about other countries as we browsed the atlas together, showing by example tolerance of people from other cultures, leading me (without pressure) to emulate him in my choice of career. If he were removed from my life story I wonder if I would today have the network of belongings that I now possess, modified as they may have been by other experiences and circumstances. Nonetheless, if I look for the rock on which it all has been built I need look no further than those childhood experiences with Roy C. – my grandfather.

 

Notelets

1. Dr C has gone to Fiji for a week’s holiday. That could be interesting as a coup seems to be in progress.

2. A couple of (reconstructed) bits of conversation with coachees this week.

Coachee 1 (14): Yes, I read The Lord of the Rings when I was about 4.

Me: Really? That’s a bit much for a four year old… Did you read it in Chinese or English?

Coachee 1: In Chinese. (He was in Shanghai then.)

Me: Have you read it since in English?

Coachee 1: Yes.

Me: Do you still read a lot?

Coachee: One book a week.

Me: English or Chinese?

Coachee: Mostly in English.

********

Coachee 2 (17): I’m having some problems with Keating’s Speech on the Unknown Soldier. (One of seven set for the HSC unit on speeches.)

Me: What problems?

Coachee 2: What is mateship?

That led to an interesting discussion.

 

The nitty gritty of English

I have one coachee in Year 12 doing Advanced English for the HSC who presents with a considerable problem. It isn’t lack of intelligence or insight, but rather a level of English that makes it hard for him to demonstrate what he knows effectively. He arrived in Australia from Hong Kong in May 2007. While he had some English language instruction in Hong Kong, he is very much a Cantonese native speaker.

Here is a small example.

In the movie Australian, Baz Luhrmann is dealing with the same sort of idea that an outsider Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidmen), is trying to fit in to a country that is completely new to her. The way she belongs to the new continent is by understanding the aboriginal’s thought and accept the way they live and try to fit in to them. With the introduction of the rough cow’s drover (Hugh Jackman) as an assistance of Sarah Ashley, the drover help her to save her remote cow station. In this case, Sarah not only fit in to the aboriginal society because of her acceptance and understanding, but also affect by the drover, she as an English noble is not really standing on their side, one of the reason is the drover doesn’t want to join the English noble group but there is another important reason base on identity that is when a person belongs to a group they will understanding their thought and support them, which is in this case, the aboriginal kid is being accepted by her as her children in the white man society. Her we can see the connection between the experience of Peter Skrzynecki in “Migrant Hostel” and in Australian, both of them experience a lack of belonging to a place because of the lack of understanding to the place. However, in Australia, Sarah Ashley has successfully understand and accept the Aboriginal culture then finally she is truly belong to the continent which is different to all the white people who live in the continent, they just physically belong to that place but not spiritually belong to this place. The sense of belonging is shown in the final scene of the movie, that Sarah Ashley release and let the Aboriginal kid goes back to his grandpa his root this is a acceptance to a culture, which is a way to belong to a new culture.

Here is the work in progress; I have left a section untouched* because I need to discuss it further with the student. Anything in square brackets is to be deleted.

In the movie Australia Baz Luhrmann is dealing with the same sort of idea: that an outsider, Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), is trying to fit into a country that is completely new to her. The way she belongs to the new continent is by understanding [the] Aboriginal[’s] thought and accept the way they live and try to fit in with them. [With the introduction of] The rough cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) assists Sarah Ashley, [the drover] helping her to save her remote cattle station. *In this case, Sarah not only fits in to the Aboriginal society because of her acceptance and understanding, but also is affected by the drover. she as an English noble is not really standing on their side, one of the reason is the drover doesn’t want to join the English noble group but there is another important reason base on identity that is when a person belongs to a group they will understanding their thought and support them, which is in this case, the aboriginal kid is being accepted by her as her children in the white man society.*

“Cow” is feminine, “bull” is masculine; “cattle” is the generic or collective noun.

Here we can see the connection between the experience of Peter Skrzynecki in “Migrant Hostel” and Sarah Ashley in Australia. Both of them experience a lack of belonging to a place because of a lack of understanding of the place. However, in Australia, Sarah Ashley has successfully understood and accepted the Aboriginal culture so that finally she is truly able to belong to the continent, which is different from most of the white people who live in the continent, who just physically belong to this place but do not spiritually belong to this place. The sense of belonging is shown in the final scene of the movie when Sarah Ashley [release and] lets the Aboriginal boy go back to his grandfather and his roots. This is an acceptance of a culture, which is a way to belong to a new culture.

In the previous paragraph I have replaced a few examples of colloquial language with more neutral or formal language.

He is, by the way, improving quite rapidly, but still has a long way to go and not much time to get there.

 

Recession solving teacher shortage?

Ironic, isn’t it?

See When going gets tough, get teaching in today’s Australian.

IF Australia slides into recession, Connie and Peter Watson will be among the last to feel it.

As teachers in the public school system for decades, the couple not only love their profession, they know it provides a safe haven from what Kevin Rudd described this week as the financial "cyclone" about to hit our shores.

And they are not alone.

As the world descends into financial crisis, increasing numbers of school-leavers and early victims of the job crunch in other industries are cramming into education courses to seek a new, safer career.

This is no more apparent than in the former boom state of Western Australia, where anecdotal evidence suggests a significant rise in the number of applicants to teaching courses since the global slump in demand for resources brought the mining super-cycle to an abrupt halt.

"As a teacher, you not only ride out bad times, you don’t even notice them," Ms Watson told The Weekend Australian.

"You trade off a higher wage in the short term but you have solid employment and a predictable income."

The teacher of 40 years, who is now principal of Fitzroy North Primary School in Melbourne’s inner north, said she had recently hired several mature-aged graduate teachers who had come from the private sector.

"They have decided they would really like to teach and the security of teaching appeals to them after the ups and downs of the private sector," she said. "I am sure one of the strong appeals is the security of the job and the fact that people will always be needed." …

How to lift quality education outcomes? Test less…

I have mentioned this before, because it runs counter to conservative opinion – in which I include the various Labor governments in Australia! It also runs counter to most bureaucratic thinking in the Western world, wedded as that is to models derived from the corporate world and obsessed with measuring everything, even things which probably can’t be validly measured.

I mention it again because my English/ESL blog has recently had several visits from Reflections on TESOL,  a blog run by a Muslim English teacher at a university in the UK. That in itself is culturally interesting.

A recent post there is To test or not to test or teach?

…I recently came across an article about education in Finland as well as a podcast on the BBC. It was fascinating stuff!

In Finland, for most of a student’s life, there are no exams, and everyone passes. There are no failures. Finland’s philosophy on education is education for education’s sake it seems. Everyone must have the opportunity to be educated.

Teaching is the most popular profession. Hard to believe! Respect? For teachers? Is this the paradise we are all looking for? What’s more, for every teaching vacancy there are ten applicants.

In a UN survey, Finland came top.

Why are we not reading up on Finish educational techniques? They’re obviously doing something right.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Australia, education, English studies, ESL, exams and assessment

 

Irony (noun) – the Murdoch press thundering about purity in English Studies (see also “hypocrisy”)

Funnily enough I was talking about such things last Saturday at my Glebe breakfast – and we didn’t have latte or chardonnay, nor were we weaving baskets. I was asked what I thought of the current (“new”) HSC course. The questioner, a writer and academic, had also been singing the praises of Flaubert’s sentences, savouring them in French as well as in English translation. How much more a literary tragic can you be? (And I say that with respect.) He went on to say he was rather impressed with the “new” HSC English, watered down as it is in terms of theory, because he was finding students much more open to thought and better prepared than they used to be. Depends who you ask, doesn’t it?

The worst thing you can do in my opinion to English studies is to pickle it in brine or turn it into a nostalgia museum.

So I find the discussions going on between the National Curriculum people and the Australian Association for the Teaching of English appropriate, well-informed, and intelligent. They are in that respect opposite to today’s editorial in The Australian which I find plain dumb and very badly informed.

Like most Australians, we thought the point of English classes at school was to teach children to read and write properly and to understand literature. Alas, we stand corrected. As Justine Ferrari reports today, the organisation representing Australia’s English teachers’ association, in responding to the national English curriculum, recommends that "meaning making in and through language, across a range of forms, media and expressions, should be the core organiser of the curriculum."

Quite. Read it again – it gets muddier every time.

In our view, and undoubtedly that of most parents and students, the national curriculum did a good job defining literature clearly as "plays, novels and poems … cinema, television and multimedia … poetry, picture books, multimodal texts, short stories and drama, and a variety of nonfiction forms such as biography."

The English Teachers Association of NSW, alas, sneered at the definitions as "nebulous". Instead, they suggested "the term culturally valued texts as a definition of literature."

Culturally valued by whom? Teenagers at the lower end of the class who prefer Big Brother to Oscar Wilde? Or, more likely, progressive teachers who find it easier to play films than take students through the themes and characters of Pride and Prejudice?

The NSW teachers want the national curriculum to be about "other models of English such as personal growth, cultural studies and critical literacy as that is how teachers understand and have operated within the subject". The best English teachers are happy to focus on their subject, but those who want to be social engineers and cultural warriors dominate these teachers’ associations, which are becoming irrelevant.

Teaching grammar, which promises to be a vital improvement in the national curriculum, was dismissed by the NSW teachers as having "no influence on either the accuracy or quality of written language development for 5 to 16-year-olds". As grammar has not been taught widely to Australian students in a generation, that claim is dubious in the extreme.

The papers also push hard for assessment that is "inclusive of the full range of students" and for teachers to be given wide scope to select materials to be studied in the interests of "equity".

However worthy the teachers believe this approach to be, it is precisely students from disadvantaged and non-English-speaking homes who have most to lose from such a defeatist system. Many disadvantaged students, and some from affluent homes, do not have access to good books and are not encouraged to read by parents.

English teachers who truly value their professionalism would encourage a rigorous curriculum, taught with expertise, that provides all students with the best possible written and verbal communication skills and an appreciation of literature. This is the best way to set disadvantaged students up for life.

The Rudd Government must ignore the push to impose the worst of current state-based systems on to the national curriculum.

Where can one start? Perhaps by pointing out that the words singled out for praise in paragraph three in fact paraphrase (and mean much the same as) the words roundly condemned in paragraph one. Nor do I find anything arcane in "meaning making in and through language, across a range of forms, media and expressions, should be the core organiser of the curriculum."

But then I wrote twenty-six years ago:

I am concerned here with theory at a fairly low level of generality; or, putting it another way, I am in search of models and procedures which might make my practice more effective, more critical, or more broadly based… In all of this I am making the following assumptions about English teaching:

1. Language creates and orders meanings, personal and social, outward and inward. Language is the primary means of creating, expressing and interpreting the self, in the context of society and history. Language is also a means of ordering and interpreting reality. While there are many difficult theoretical questions raised by the idea that language constructs the self and reality, we cannot give up the idea that in doing so language is more than merely self-reflexive.

2. Central to English teaching is the learner as meaning-maker, a participant in the network of meanings that constitute our culture.

3. In using and studying language or other means of meaning-making in a variety of contexts and realizations, the learner grows more competent, more aware, and less helpless.

Glossing that eleven years ago I said:

My own position (and that of many I suspect) has been an evolving one. Rather than earlier approaches being absolutely displaced by later ones, I have tended to keep what works from many perspectives. So when I embraced aspects of the process or whole language approaches, it was because these opened up the range of things students could do; but I continued to look at sentence grammar, paragraphing, spelling and so on. Teaching of grammar and style was enhanced by reading in the areas of stylistics and language variation in the later 1970s and 1980s, and these were in turn strengthened by the genre pedagogy of the early 1990s. An abiding concern of most English teachers has been critical reading; the meaning and scope of that has been enriched by insights from Freebody and Luke, Kress and Hasan, to name a few.

I am all in favour of teaching the classics, keeping in mind that the idea there were “classics” in English is surprisingly recent. There were no English departments in universities anywhere until the late 19th century, and very few until well into the 20th century. I am also in favour of enabling students to negotiate all the forms and media we/they confront in the real world. I think that is called “literacy”. It has also been called (by Hemingway) “crap detection.”  Very handy when reading the Murdoch press.

And that will do for now. Just as the Oz is simply regurgitating today, so I have responded to their past eructations. Check the appropriate tags and categories in the side bar. Here is just one example: Here we go again 2 (December 2007).

I get so tired of their threadbare bitching.

Read the AATE submission for yourself: national-english-curriculum-framing-paper-aate-response.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2009 in Australia, education, English studies, literacy

 

Nice, but hot

Over on the photoblog I mention it was 39C today – not what the news says, but that’s what it was out of the wind and in the sun on M’s balcony at noon. I was doing a brief house-sit, for reasons I won’t bother with here… But you can see one of his plants.

06feb 022

It was at least cool inside, and it did keep me away from the computer most of the day. 😉 (Today’s other posts went up via automatic pilot just after midnight last night.) Called at The Mine too.

06feb 002

No. Not too close… Photographing school boys is a no-no.

nephew Speaking of no longer school boys, English/ESL scored a visit via my grand-nephew’s (right) MySpace blog. He’d written last year (and I hadn’t seen this before):

With a new school year set to start today, I just thought that I should spread a little bit of cheer in the form of information. Yay!

HSC is a bitch, as we all know, and English is a subject everyone does, and it is a pain in the ass right across all levels. I, however have found a website that takes a little bit of the strain off the extensive English workload.

http://neilwhitfield.wordpress.com/

This website, hosted by former English HT of Sydney Boys HS (along with several other High Schools and Universities) and my Great Uncle…was one of the best resources I had when I was studying HSC English Advanced. But not only does this website cover English Advanced curricula, but ranges from ESL, English Standard, and even to Extension, and includes tips as to how to write proper essays, and guidlines on how to stick to answering the question.

I rate this website to anyone studying the HSC this year as it saved me a few times last year.

So Check it out!

Bookmark it!

Maybe it will save your HSC too…

Go Figure

No, I’m not linking him, but I was also pleased to read (and he is a Shire boy) a really impassioned statement on racism.

…I understand racism still exists. It is appalling that in today Australia, that barriers still exist. I for one am NOT a racist. However, I am an Australian. My heritage is that of English, Scottish, Mauritian, Aboriginal and a bunch of others. I have cousins of Malaysian descent. I was born in Australia and live my life as an Australian. I do not mingle in the business of others, and I certainly do not take offense nor exhibit prejudice to the heritage that of my own nor other around me.

I do, however, take offense to others who label me as a racist, BECAUSE I am what is ignorantly labelled as White Australian. It is an ugly term to be thrown around. My love for who I am and where I live and those who have lived before me does not make me a racist, nor does it make others like me racist. It is, in fact, those who use that term to label others who are the racist ones.

This needs to stop. We need to live together under the one flag. That is what the Australian Flag represents. It represents unity. It represents mutual respect…

Nothing to do with me, I assure you, all his own unaided thoughts. (I don’t see him all that often, though we just had a quick MSN chat in response to the English/ESL link, which I thanked him for.)

I was chuffed though.

Must correct my g-nephew: I was never H(ead) T(eacher) — just a dogsbody crew member, and of course ESL head, in the sense there was only ever one of us!

 

Here’s another “100 best novels of all time” post

Here is the preface and the top ten; go to the full list.

We all love lists . . . well let’s stir the waters with an ambitious one highlighting
the 100 best novels.  Be warned:  this ranking is based on cranky and
subjective standards.  (But aren’t they all?)

1.    Marcel Proust  Remembrance of Things Past
“The only paradise is a paradise lost.”
2.    Fyodor Dostoevsky  The Brothers Karamozov
“If God is dead, then all things are permitted.”
3.    Thomas Mann,  The Magic Mountain
“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or
blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even
when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off
pistols.”
4.    Henry James  The Ambassadors
"The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have."
5.    Miguel de Cervantes  Don Quixote
"For the love of God, sir knight errant, if you ever meet me again, please, even
if you see me being cut into little pieces, don’t rush to my aid or try to help
me, but just let me be miserable, because no matter what they’re doing to me
it couldn’t be worse than what will happen if your grace helps, so may God
curse you and every knight errant who’s ever been born in the world."
6.    Herman Melville  Moby Dick
"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I
grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my
last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and
since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee,
though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!"
7.    William Faulkner  Absalom, Absalom!
"I learned little save that most of the deeds, good and bad both, incurring
opprobrium or plaudits or reward either, within the scope of man’s abilities,
had already been performed and were to be learned about only from books."
8.    Leo Tolstoy  War and Peace
“A thought that had long since and often occured to him during his military
activities — the idea that there is not and cannot be any science of war, and
that therefore there can be no such thing as a military genius — now appeared
to him an obvious truth.”
9.    Henry Fielding  Tom Jones
“Jenny replied to this with a bitterness which might have surprized a judicious
person, who had observed the tranquility with which she bore all the affronts
to her chastity; but her patience was perhaps tired out, for this is a virtue
which is very apt to be fatigued by exercise.”
10.  Mark Twain  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
“But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right
or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him
anyway. . . . It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and
yet ain’t no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer thinks the same.”

I have read only five of those, though I did begin two others! Isn’t that a dreadful confession to make?

How did you score? Would you add anything to the list, assuming you are a good Floating Life reader and click on the link…?

Coincidentally, British crime fiction writer John Baker includes a similar list in his latest post: Presque vu LXXVI.

 

I’ve been writing an HSC English essay!

It’s been a while since I did. Now I am not sure how good it is. Those interested might like to visit The “Belonging” Essay. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy to do!

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2009 in education, English studies, personal

 

Not posting with much seriousness, or let’s lighten up a little…

Three things that have piqued me…

1. The perils of computer translation as seen in spam comments

I will relay this wonderful example of the dangers of word-for-word “machine” translation before consigning it to Akismet oblivion. I do wonder, however, what Babelfishing this blog in another language must yield.

Secrecy is ly the A- help you can get from peace fulnessing or buying remedy medication via the Internet. With the hundreds of legal online pharmacies recognized on the Internet today, you no longer lack to sweat blood yon having to come the pharmaceutical chemist in your restricted dose store when you paucity to buy remedy medications like *** Online…

The said dose remedy is fundamentally entranced in preference to having procreative dealings. Upstanding like other lifestyle dose benumbs, *** Online may also be entranced up with an inane stomach. It is not non-poisonous, regardless, to suppose *** along with medications that carry nitrate ingredient, for it may prime mover unanticipated let go in blood affliction, as follows, prime to fondle or lessness attack…

*** Online is a benumb medication. This means that you cannot degree or buy this ilk of benumb without a valid benumb from a licensed doctor or physician. at times a remedy is watch overed, you can either get the remedy at a particular dosestore or buy *** at online pharmacies.

To certain that you’ll get je sais quoi from *** Online medications, insinuate steadfast that the online dispensary you pick out is a licensed or a fair one. Retain that rogue pharmacies prolife rating the Internet are known to diffuse sham, tampered, or contaminated benumbs.

We are warned of side effects.

Roughly, the side forces caacclimatized by the *** dose are lenient and not final for a duo of hours. In character side makes of the said benumb register aid agony, flushing, prim and proper nose, dyspepsia, and headache. Oddball materialization is also developing into the commsolitary reported non-immutable side outcomes knowledgeable by men who are fetching *** Online.

Though, if any of the side force enumerated farther down persist, it is much recommended to leave off the inset down of the *** dose and consult your doctor nearly it:

* Dizziness * Erection that aftermosts for more than four hours * Blurred or unanticipated modest disappointment of envisaging * discourteous disappointment or curtailment of hearing * impulsive * Ringing in ears * Hives

I haven’t used *** myself, but I think I have experienced * Blurred or unanticipated modest disappointment of envisaging  and * discourteous disappointment at times….

2. The many looks of Julie Bishop

While recognising that Annabel Crabb hasn’t contributed greatly to our understanding of policy issues in her piece today, I did so like it…

NOBODY gives "looks" quite like Julie Bishop can.

The Liberal deputy leader is carefully co-ordinated in everything she wears, from the heels on her feet right up to the expression on her face.

But the expressions are easily the best. When the shadow treasurer "looks" at you, you know you’ve been "looked" at.

The Bishop repertoire ranges from shocked innocence through pouting reproach to pure hate. Each has a specific use. Each is unforgettable.

The shadow treasurer entered question time yesterday wearing "Hillary Clinton".

"Hillary Clinton" is a dazzling, defiant, diamond-hard smile, whose wattage tends to be in inverse proportion to the direness of the circumstances at hand. It is an expression employed when everything around the wearer is falling apart, and she’d really like everyone to change the subject; Bishop donned the very same expression this year for a press conference after her colleagues voted to abandon Australian Workplace Agreements, against her express advice…

I am sure Julie’s original profession of the law would have given scope, but perhaps a post-politics career in film or TV? Imagine Julie in Kerry O’Brien’s role…

3. Aussies not tops in all departments

No, that’s the Poms, it appears: Britain on top in casual sex league. But we have thrust our way into the top five, ahead of the Yanks at least…

In an international index measuring one-night stands, total numbers of partners and attitudes to casual sex, Britain comes out ahead of Australia, the US, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany…

PROMISCUITY RANKINGS OF MAJOR COUNTRIES*

1 United Kingdom

2 Germany

3 Netherlands

4 Czech Republic

5 Australia

6 USA

7 France

8 Turkey

9 Mexico

10 Canada

11 Italy

12 Poland

13 Spain

14 Greece

15 Portugal

*OECD countries with populations over 10m Source: David Schmitt, Bradley University

Well, what do you make of that?

 
Comments Off on Not posting with much seriousness, or let’s lighten up a little…

Posted by on December 2, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, computers, diversions, English studies, weirdness

 

Literacy s—teracy – I get so frustrated…

…but aside from my little bit of tutoring, it’s not my problem any more. What is frustrating is that during forty years (round figure) of teaching, mainly English at secondary level, I read statements like the following just about every year, beginning at least in 1965!

Nevertheless, you don’t need to be a behavioural scientist to know that literacy standards have declined. The problem is self-evident in the generation of twenty and thirty-somethings, with whom most of us work and play, who struggle to write anything more than a simple sentence and to read and comprehend anything more complicated than sports or gossip magazines.

That 2008 variant of this boring anecdotal meme is from David Long on ABC Unleashed today. You may note that in my essay on literacy (1998) I allude to the same allegation, as I could have in 1988, 1978 and so on…   Go and read the essay as I am tired of arguing. I should add, I suppose, that I am not complacent on the subject, that anyone I taught in that forty years left me knowing what a subject and verb are and how sentences are constructed, how paragraphs are constructed, and so on. Nothing in any English syllabus in that forty years forbade imparting that knowledge, though how it was explained and how it was tested have varied. I know this is the case in NSW not just because I was there, but because I also know the person who framed the 1972 “New English” Syllabus, and during the 70s I knew just about everyone at the top of the NSW English Teachers Association, being on the State Council myself in the late 70s. I also knew Leonie Kramer, Rob Eagleson, Bob Walshe, and (less well) Michael Halliday… People who have been around English teaching for long enough will know who they are. Not that this proves anything, except that a healthy discussion has been going on among English teachers for decades and I have been part of it, and teachers have been in all that time, as was my grandfather from 1906, totally committed to fostering reading, writing and thinking among our students, not all of whom are willing participants in the process, which is and always has been one of our challenges — that and the great variety of abilities and circumstances one must deal with. Teachers are constantly seeking ways to meet these challenges, partly as a matter of survival as well as to better serve (or “better to serve” if you follow that fetish) the community. I still regard as possibly my greatest success as a teacher getting a 14-year-old (in 1970) to be able at last to write his own name despite his having an IQ too low to assess. 

In more recent years English Studies has added to what we were taught and (maybe) learned. We think rather more than I did in the 1959 Leaving Certificate about how, where and why texts are uttered/written or (as we say these days) composed, and we pay more attention to the variety of texts, linguistics having shown us a lot more about that than we knew fifty years ago. That is a plus, and very important.

Why are people so irredeemably illiterate (or anecdotal, or dogmatic) when it comes to talking about literacy? Why too don’t a few more people point to the place where language learning begins, and where its development is most fostered: the home?

FOOTNOTE

I had to come back and fix a subject-verb agreement problem in this post! At least I could spot it and knew what to do about it, though it was one of those cases where most readers, probably including Mr Long, would not have noticed if I had left it uncorrected! But I am a bit of a pedant… My coachees of 2008, even the one in Year 8, also know about subject-verb agreement, even if getting it right can be a bit harder when, as is that Year 8 student’s  case, one’s first language is Chinese. (Chinese languages survive without marking subject-verb agreement grammatically.)

Oh go and read English/ESL if you are interested in such things. I’m out of here!

FOOTNOTE 2

There is another possible subject-verb agreement problem in this post, but I am not going to correct it, as arguably it is notionally correct. Can you find it?

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2008 in curriculum, education, English language, English studies, linguistics and language, literacy

 

Odds and sods

I wonder where that expression came from, aside from the obvious rhyme appeal?

First, I remind you that these days rather than note blogs I have read here I tend to simply add them, with a short comment, to my Google Reader. There have been about 20 added in the past 24 hours. In the side bar there is also a feed to the last 20 additions, though there is a slight delay between the Reader and appearance in the side bar widget. Clicking on a title in the widget takes you directly to the original blog item rather than to the Reader. While I commend the Reader to you, do make sure you visit the blogs themselves from time to time. That’s the whole idea.

Second, there was a time I would have ranted and raved about the latest manifestation of the boring and predictable in Back to basics proposal for English pupils in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. I am rather pleased to note the piece was written by one Yuko Narushima, which itself highlights one of the many changes that have happened here in Oz in the past fifty years, since the alleged “golden age” of English teaching. If you want to know how I might have ranted, just find the appropriate category on this blog and carry on from there. As always, this current move will lead pretty much nowhere because it is riddled with false assumptions and dodgy dichotomies and wishful thinking.** But I said I wouldn’t rant… Anyway, I have passed the torch on to Aluminium, The Rabbit, Thomas, and others… It’s theirs to do now. I am confident the torch is in good hands.

Third, I note that much more important matters have been passing me by. I refer you to the excellent Peter Roebuck: Little Master, big feat.

sachin

Don’t underestimate the value of Cricket during global economic crises… Remember Bradman.

Finally, for now, if you want a relief from all that angst about this or that, go to my increasingly non-verbal Ninglun’s Specials. I am about to add to it. Here is a preview:

wed15 019

Photo by Neil 2008

See you there… 🙂

Update and correction

**Yes, you will see I have struck out the jaded bit there. It was a reflex after so often being infuriated by discussion in this area, but I should have looked at sources, shouldn’t I? When I did I was convinced that something informed and intelligent is being hatched down there! See National Curriculum Board. When I see some of the people involved, I am certain good things will come out of this: Peter Freebody, Ros Arnold… Not trogs, definitely not, and that’s just to name two whose work I am familiar with; Ros was a colleague when I was working in Dip Ed at Sydney University; Peter Freebody’s work became familiar to me when I was doing my Grad Cert TESOL at UTS. (See the essay on literacy I wrote at that time.)

Here are two relevant documents:

English Advice: National Curriculum Board PDF.

English Workshop Questions: National Curriculum Board (PDF).

 

Recidivist bore now writing for the Sydney Morning Herald

I refer of course to Miranda Devine, who cites in support of her diatribe about English teachers, and the NSW English Teachers Association in particular, just two people: Sophie Masson, one of Quadrant’s better writers whose son seems, from what I can tell, to have had a bad HSC English experience, and, of course, Kevin Donnelly who gets all sentimental about the admittedly superior Western Shane — the book not the movie. From this, with a catch-all almost cliched allusion to Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” and a few very selective and occasionally distorted quotes* from two submissions the NSW ETA made to the Board of Studies warning against narrowing the range of English Studies and assessment, Miranda asserts English teachers have lost the plot. I can’t be bothered rebutting her or even quoting her further. She’s been here before. See for example The HSC English moanings of Miranda… — a post from January 2007.

I am prepared to quote the Bible though: As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly. That’s Proverbs 26, and I thought the 16th century Catholic translation most apt for Miranda’s case.

Go to Posts Tagged ‘Miranda Devine’ in Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07, and also for a wider view of English Studies go to the Archive for the ‘English studies’ Category here on Floating Life.

Treat Miranda’s ranting with great caution. It is a tissue of prejudice and opinion from end to end with hardly a fact to fly from. It is journalistic laziness of a rather obvious kind, concocted over a cup of coffee after a chat to a couple of mates.

Instead, read the ETA’s submissions for yourself. I thought them worth uploading. They are far superior to Miranda. At least they seem to know what they are talking about. So it seems to me anyway, but what would I know? I only taught English for around forty years…

  1. The NSW ETA response to proposals on Australian content
  2. ETA on HSC exam and assessment proposals

* For example, Miranda mocks the ETA for only having 43 submissions to back their proposal, neglecting to mention that some, perhaps many, of those submissions were from English Departments, not individuals.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2008 in awful warnings, culture wars, education, English studies, literacy, literary theory/criticism, right wing politics