domingo, 29 de agosto de 2010


Setting ESL Objectives

People learn English for many and extremely varied reasons. Taking these reasons, as well as language acquisition needs, into consideration when planning a class or individual instruction is crucial for a successful learning experience. This is probably as important for the student as for the teacher. When a student understands his/her reasons for learning English well, he can then better plan his learning strategy. In the classroom, he/she can help the teacher identify needs and desires. If the student is learning alone, he/she can find learning materials based on a better knowledge of what his/her objectives are.

Let's take a look at two of the more common reasons for learning English and what might work well for achieving learning goals.

Goal One: I'd like to improve my English in order to find a better job.

In this case, it is important to ask yourself the questions:

1. Will a certificate help the chances of getting a job?
2. Is job specific English required?
3. Who will I (the students) be speaking English with, native speakers or other English as a foreign language speakers?

Details and Considerations for Each Question:

Point 1: This is very important as the need for a certificate will dictate what is required learning: Grammar, Functional English, Writing Listening, etc. If a certificate is required the student should focus on improving specifics points required by the examination. For example, Cambridge's First Certificate exam will require the skill of sentence transformation, the TOEFL requires the skill of understanding US test taking skills (I'm not joking!).

Point 2: If job specific English is required, tasks should be more real-world orientated. If possible, tasks should also be based on the exact type of English required in the specific profession. For example: computer terminology for programming, presentation skills for management, etc.

Point 3: This is extremely important, as students who will be expected to speak English only with other non-native speakers should not have to worry as much about listening skills as those who will be expected to communicate principally with native speakers. An understanding of the culture (British, American, etc) might be important if the learner will be traveling and communicating in these countries.

Goal Two: I'd like to improve my English as a hobby.

In this case, it is important to ask yourself the questions:

1. How will you (the students) be using the English? Communication, Reading, Using the Internet, etc.?
2. Do you (the students) enjoy typical task type activities? Or do you (they) prefer real-world activities?
3. How much do I (the students) want to improve my English? Do I (the students) want to just be able to travel and be understood? Do I (the students) want to be able to read James Joyce?

Details and Considerations for Each Question:

Point 1: This is of the utmost importance when deciding what type of activities should be pursued. If communication is most important, functional English will be preferable to grammar exercises. If reading Rolling Stone magazine is important, idiomatic language study will be required.

Point 2: This is basically a question of learning style and is very important. Involved students will always learn more in the long run than those who are bored. Is also important to remember that, if you are the teacher, imposing your learning preference on the class can, at times, deter effective learning.

Point 3: Understanding the desired language proficiency goal is probably one of the most important aspects of learning well. If the student desires to communicate basic needs while traveling, focusing on the correct use of the third conditional is beside the point. On the other hand, if students strive to higher levels of grammatical understanding, teachers need to accept that role-play games might not always be the best activity.


These are just a few of the most important questions that need to be asked when planning a learning strategy. This pragmatic approach to English learning is probably most effective when teaching adult learners, as there are generally no state imposed goals. Of course, when curriculum requirements are imposed by an outside source, it is important to construct a syllabus with an eye towards such requirements.

sábado, 28 de agosto de 2010



While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

* Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%--from 25% to 47%.
* During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%--from 13% to 26%.
* By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.”

* One in five (20%) online adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago.
* Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are primarily based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English. A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) samples was used to represent all adults in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. For results based Internet users (n=1,756), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting telephone surveys may introduce some error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Venecia "El salón más bello de Europa"

The Republic of Venice, located in northern Italy, was founded in the ninth century when the Venetians prevented the Francs from abducting this island. Venice was, however, not distinctive in any way yet. Whether it was a theft or a cheap bargain, the arrival of the body of the saint Evangelist Mark by the eleventh doge changed everything. No saint without a legend and the legend was established very soon. When St. Mark set foot on the lagoon island, he was welcomed by an angel who told him that on the very spot where he was standing, an impressive city would come into being. After the arrival of the body- the bones of St. Mark were buried in the Basilica di San Marco's, Venice prospered and could no longer be ignored on the world-stage.

Venice became the first and the biggest trading power in the world. That is, the world before the great expeditions during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. Through trade the Venetians prospered and Venice rapidly accumulated wealth. Venetians merchants established monopolies and used the Crusades as a tool to increase their trading power. They forced the Crusaders to attack rival traders in Constantinople in exchange for transportation to the Arab Empire in the Middle East. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese arrived in the Indies and the Venetians had to face the loss of their monopoly of spices. However, the tendency to self-idolizing fed the urge to find a new alternative: art flourished as never before. At the same time that Venice had to face the end of its trading status, it reached its artistic pinnacle, both in architecture and painting

The Venetians decided to maintain the 'chaotic' form of the city. Until the Renaissance, Venice gained its own distinctive character by colouring the city with marble, red brick and using all sorts of architectural elements the Venetians imported and adjusted from elsewhere in Italy or collected during travels abroad. Gothic and Roman-Byzantium architecture gave way to the Renaissance and its most important architect, Jacopo Sansovino, halfway during the fifteenth century. He and his pupils put their mark on the city before the Renaissance was overwhelmed by the exuberant style of the Baroque, the style which contributed heavily to the Venice you are experiencing this day. In 1866, Venice became part of the kingdom of Italy. Twentieth century Venice mainly exists because of its visitors and their presence at the yearly local and international events, such as the 'Film-festival of Venice' and the 'Mostra Biennale Internazionale d'Arta Moderna', the later offering an overview of modern painting and sculpture.

miércoles, 25 de agosto de 2010


Oxymoron (oxy’ = sharp +‘moros’ = dull)

Oxymorons are the words or phrases formed when you place two ordinarily contradictory terms next to each other. You can find many pages featuring oxymorons on the Internet. Some oxymorons are used as a joke ('happily married', 'military intelligence'). Listed below are some examples:

a little pregnant
a new classic
absolutely unsure
abundant poverty
accidentally on purpose
accurate estimate
act naturally
active retirement
actual reenactment
acute dullness
advanced basic
advanced beginner airline food
all alone
all natural artificial flavor
alone in a crowd
alone together
almost done
almost pregnant
almost ready
almost safe
almost suddenly
almost surprised
almost totally amicable divorce
among the first
anarchy rules!
anonymous colleague
anticipated serendipity
anxious patient
approximate solution
approximately equal
army intelligence
authentic replica
authentic reproduction
awfully good

black light
baggy tights
barely dressed
bureaucratic efficiencies
benevolent despot
beyond infinity big detail
bigger half
bird dog
bitter sweet
blind eye
boneless ribs books on tape
border control
boring entertainment
build down
burning cold
business ethics

cafeteria food
calculated risk
calm winds
camping resort
cardinal sin
casual chic
casual intimacy
casually concerned
cavalier concern
center around
certain risk
certainly unsure
chaotic organization
chilling fever
civil disobedience
civil war
clear as mud
clearly ambiguous
clearly confused
climb down
clogged drain close distance
cold sweat
commercial art
comparatively unique
compassionate management
complete separation
completed research
completely destroyed
completely unfinished
computer jock
concrete pad
confident fear
conservative liberal
considerate boss
consistent discrepancies
consistent uncertainties
consistently inconsistent
conspicuously absent
constant change
constant variable
constructive attitude constructive criticism
constructive negativity
continuing resolution
contra aid
contra assistance
controlled enthusiasm
controlled chaos
corporate conscience
corporate ethics
countless numbers
country music
cowardly lion
crash landing
creation science
criminal justice
crisis management
critical acclaim
cruel kindness
current history
curved line
customer service

daily special
dark day
dark light
dark star
dead livestock
dead right
deafening silence
debugged program
defensive strike
deficit spending
definite maybe
deliberate mistake
deliberately thoughtless
delicious torment
demanding patient Department of Interior
(responsible for everything outside)
deregulation law
detailed summary
devilish angel
devout atheist
diet ice cream
different pattern
diligent sloth
diminished confidence
diminishing growth
dim light
direct circumvention
disaster preparedness
disciplined gluttony discretionary rules
disposable income
distant relative
doing nothing
domestic bliss
double solitaire
dress pants
dressy casual
driving pleasure
dry creek/lake/pond/river
dry humor
dry ice/martini./wine
dry snow
dull shine
dynamic monotone
educated guess
educational TV
elected king
elementary calculus
elevated subway
elite rabble
eloquent silence
enormously small
entertaining sermon
enthusiastic indifference
environmentalist bumper sticker
equally diverse equal justice
equal opportunity
escaped inmate
essential luxury
essential service
eternal life
ethical hackers
European Community
even odds
exact estimate
expected serendipity
expected surprise expect the unexpected
explicit innuendo
explicitly ambiguous
expressive silence
extended deadline
extensive briefing
extinct life form
extra ordinary
extra money
extra small
extremely average
extremely bland/neutral

fail safe
fair reporting
fair trial
fairly accurate
fairly explicit/obvious
fallout shelter
false fact
false hope
farewell reception
fast food
fast waiter
fast walk
fatally injured
fat-free cream cheese
fearful bravery
fiber glass
finally again
firm maybe
firm pillow
first annual
first conclusions first deadline
first string secondary
first-strike defense
fish farm
flood control
floppy disk
flurry of inactivity
flying fish
foolproof instructions
football scholarship
foreign national
forward back
forward lateral
found missing
free market
free prisoner
free with purchase
free rent
free society
free trade agreement
freezer burn fresh dried fruit
fresh prunes
fresh raisins
fresh yogurt
freezer burn
friendly argument
friendly divorce
friendly enemy
friendly fire
friendly suit (legal)
friendly takeover
front end
frugal gourmet
full service
full-time hobby
full vacuum
(as in a vacuum that needs a new bag)
functional illiterate
future history
fuzzy logic

gentle turbulence
gentleman bandit
genuine fake
genuine imitation
genuine-imitation leather
global village
go ahead, back up
going nowhere
good fast food
good garbage
good grief good junk
good lawyer
gourmet fast food
gourmet hamburger
gourmet sandwich/pizza
government aid
government assistance
government efficiency
government integrity
government initiative
graduate student graphic language
great depression
greater evil
green blackberries
green oranges
grotesque beauty
grounded airplane
group of individuals
growing small
guaranteed forecast
guest host
gunboat diplomacy

happily married
hard curve
hard cushion
hard liquor
hard water
harmless crime
harmless lie
harmless pollution
harmless sin
hasten slowly hazardous waste disposal
head butt
healthy chocolate
healthy city environment
healthy tan
heavy gas
Hell’s Angels
here and there
high ground
highly visible covert operation
high-speed computer
hollow point
holy hell
holy land
holy war home office
home school
honest convict/crook/thief
honest insurance companies
honest liar
honest politician
hopelessly optimistic
horribly decent
horse fly
hospital food
hot chili
house boat
huge market niche
huge shortage

ill fortune
ill health
immigration control
impatient patient
important trivia
inarticulate writer
incomplete cure
increasing declines
increasingly little
incredibly common
incredibly dull indifferently attentive
indirect communication
industrial park
inexpensive car
incredibly real
inexpensive house
inexpensive medical care
initial conclusion
initial results
initial retirement
inside out instant classic
instant folk hero
intelligent news coverage
intense apathy/disinterest
internal exile
intimate murder
intimate strangers
invisible ink
irate patient
insincere thanks
insincere vow

job security
journalistic integrity
jumbo shrimp
junk food justifiably paranoid

known-covert operation
kosher ham

lady-mud wrestler
ladies man
lamp shade
land developer
land development
larger half
last initial
lasting aid
least favorite
legal ethics
legally drunk
legitimate conspiracy
lemon lime
less is more
lesser evil
lesser good
liberal conservative
liberal fundamentalists
light armor
light-heavyweight lightweight
limited immunity
limited incursion limited lifetime guarantee
limited freedom
limited nuclear war
linear curve
liquid crystal
liquid gas/metal/smoke
liquid natural gas
lite beer
literal interpretation
literary illiterates
little bit big
little deceptive
live recording
live television
living end
living fossil
local long distance
local network
loners club
long and short of it
long brief (for lawyers)
long recess long shorts
long sleeve t-shirt
loose knot
loose tights
loud whisper
loud silence
love-hate relationship
lovers' quarrel
low altitude
low insurance rates
low tax
lower inflation
low-fat ice cream
low-intensity conflict
loyal opposition
lucky stiff
luke-warm enthusiasm
luxury bus
luxury compact
locks on 7-11 stores
(which are open 24 hours)


major minority
male compassion
male ladybug
man child
managed competition
mandatory judgment mandatory option
mannish woman
marital bliss
mass customization
massively thin
maternity fashion
mature student
maxi thins
mean smile
meaningful nonsense medium large/medium well
melted ice
mercy killing
midnight sun
mighty weak
mild abrasive
mild cigar
mild interest
mild jalapeño
mild-mannered reporter
mildly psychotic
militant pacifist
military intelligence
mind-expanding drugs minor crisis
minor disaster
minor miracle
missing present
mobile home
modern history
modified-final judgment
moral majority
morbid humor
more perfect/unique
mud bath
mute sound
mutual differences
mutually exclusive

natural artifact
natural makeup
natural synthetic
near future
near miss
nearly complete
neat mess
necessary evil
negative gain
negative momentum
net security
neutral charge
never again
never generalize
new and improved new antiques
New Antiques arriving daily!)
new archeology
new classic
new cliché
new improved
new routine
new tradition
new used cars
nice and sleazy
night light
night vision
noble savage
no comment
non-alcoholic beer/wine non-dairy creamer
non-denominational church
non-fat cream/ice cream
non-stick glue
non-stick gum
non-stop flight
non-toxic bug spray
non-working mother
normal deviation
normal espionage
normal human
nothing much
nuclear defense
numb feeling
numbing sensation

objective opinion
objective parent
objective rating
obvious secret
ocean shore
oddly appropriate
oddly natural
office park
old news
one choice one hundred percent chance
one person crew
one size fits all
once again
only choice
open lock
open minded
open secret
open-book test
operating system (computer) opposite attraction
organized anarchy
organized chaos/mess
organized confusion
original reprint/copy
original reproduction
outer core
oven fried
oyster crackers

painless dentistry
paper tablecloth
paper towel
parallel connection
park drive
parents without partners
partial cease fire
partial conclusion
partial silence
partial success
partially completed
partially destroyed
partially organized
partly pregnant
passive challenge
passive confrontation
passive aggressive
past prediction
peace force
peace offensive
peace officer
peace riot
peaceful protests
peasant king
perfect idiot/misfit
perfectly awful/normal
perfectly ridiculous
perfect screw-up permanent guest host
permanent substitute
persistent ambivalence
personalized form letter
pet cat
petty cash
planned exodus
planned serendipity
planned spontaneity
plastic silverware / glasses/flowers/wood/straw/
player coach
player piano
pleasantly confused
pleasing pain
politely insulting
political cooperation
political ethics
political promise
politically correct
pool table
poor intelligence
poor rich kid
population control
positive resistance
positively negative
positively wrong
post feminist
post modern
postal efficiency
Postal Service
pretty ugly/bad
pot luck
practical experience
practical joke
practice test
precision bombing
precious junk
precision thinking
preliminary conclusion
premeditated spontaneity
presently gone
presidential promises
pretty disgusting
priceless junk
prison life
private citizen
private e-mail
professional wrestling
progressing backward
pronounced silence
pure 100% orange juice from concentrate
pure evil
pure dirt
pure speculation

qualified success
questionable answer
quick fix
quick reboot (computer)
quickly slowing down quiet loudspeaker
quiet noise
quiet revolution
quiet riot
quiet scream
quiet storm
quiet tirade
quiet yell

random logic/order
randomly organized
random pattern
rap artist/music
real fantasy
real magic
real phony
real polyester
real potential
realistic fantasy
realistic schedule
realistic simulation
reasonable attorney fees
reasonable medical fees
Rebel Without a Cause
recent history recently new
reckless caution
recorded live
recycling dump
red licorice
regular special
rehearsed improvisation
relative stranger
relative truth
remotely obvious
removable sticker
required donation
required elective
resident alien
restless sleep retired worker
rising deficits
roaring silence
rock opera
rolling stop
round corner
round edges
routine emergency
routine surgery
rubber cement
running idle
running in place
rush hour
rustic elegance

sad clown
sad optimist
sad smile
sadly amused
sadly funny
safe and sane fireworks
safe guns
safe investment
safety hazard
same difference
sanitary landfill
sanitary sewer
scheduled spontaneity
school vacation
science fiction
scientific belief
scientific creationism
scientific speculation
screaming silence
scripted spontaneity
second best
second initial
secret rumor
serious fun
serious humor
seriously funny
sharp curve
short distance
short survey
sight unseen
silent alarm/scream
silent applause
silent testimony
simple calculus simple computers
simple confusion
simple technology
simply superb
sincere lie
single copy
single pair
single thought
singular relationship
sit up
slight exaggeration
slight hernia
slight surprise
slightly overweight/pregnant
slow and steady rush
slow speed
slumber party
small crowd
small fortune
smaller half
smart bomb
smart drugs
smokeless cigarette
soaring down
social hermit
social outcast
social security
solid rumor
solo concert
solo ensemble
somewhat awesome
somewhat destroyed
somewhat functional
somewhat legal
sound of silence
spectator sport
speed bump
speed limit spendthrift
splendidly dull
spoken thought
staged accident
stand down
stand fast
standard deviation
stationary bike
stationary orbit
steel wool
still moving
still wind
stop action
straight angle
straight hook
straight-forward subterfuge
strangely familiar
strategic withdrawal
strong decaf
student teacher
study break
stunted growth
subjective data
subtle exaggeration
subversive compliance
sugarless candy
suicide victim
summer school
sun shade
sure bet/tip/guess
sweet and sour
sweet pickle
sweet sorrow
sweet tart
synthetic natural gas
systematic chaos
systematic disorder

talk show
talking mime
tame beast
tame cat
taped live
targeted spam
tax return
temporary finish
tentative conclusion
terminal initialization
terribly enjoyable
terribly good terribly nice/pleased
terrific head ache
Thank God I'm an atheist
thinking out loud
tight slacks
timeless moment
to infinity and beyond
totally partial
tough love
traditionally radical
traffic flow
tragic comedy train schedule
tremendously small
troubled paradise
true counterfeit
true fiction
true gossip/lies/ story
true illusion
turkey ham
turned up missing
twelve-ounce pound cake

unbiased journalism
unbiased opinion
uncommonly common
uncommonly normal
uncontested divorce
uncrowned king
under abundance
uninvited guest
United Nations
unknown identity
upcoming downtrend
upside down
unsalted saltines
unsolved mystery
unspoken suggestion
unsung hero
unusual routine
unwelcome greetings
usually unusual
usually spectacular

Vanilla Fudge
veiled accusation
victimless crime
violent agreement
voluntary taxes
virtual reality

war games
warm ice
waterproof sponge
weapons of peace
wedded bliss
well-preserved ruins
we’re alone
wheeled walker
white chocolate
white gold
whole half
whole hemisphere
whole part/percentage/piece
wilderness management
wind burn
wireless cable
withheld contribution
working lunch
work party
working vacation




Pronunciation is far more that the accurate production of individual consonant and vowel sounds. For assistance with this basic aspect of pronunciation, a good, basic text is recommended. Please refer to the section on Supplementary Resources for suggestions. At an intermediate or advanced level, it is important to learn the pattern, intonation and the rhythm of the language, and to understand how they can be used to give information about the language structure used, or gain information or clues from what you hear.

The intonation pattern used gives information about whether an utterance is a statement or a question, the type of question and expected response, or whether something is part of a series of items, or something on its own.

* In a statement, the intonation falls on the last syllable of a sentence.

e.g. .
* There is a similar pattern in an information (WH) question; these structures are identified by both the question word that starts the sentence and by the intonation pattern.

* An information question contrasts with a “yes/no” question in which the intonation rises on the final syllable.

* In a series, the first item(s) has rising intonation and the last one has falling intonation.


If the intonation pattern is incorrect, then the listener receives a confusing message and can be unsure of how to respond.

Word or syllable stress is used to identify the important or distinguishing information in a sentence; the items to which the listener must pay special attention. Many people have a problem hearing the difference between the words forty and fourteen. The difference is in the stress, or emphasis, given to the final syllable of these words; note the difference between FORty and fourTEEN. Similarly, if you are asked the question, “Did you go to a movie last night?” and you didn’t go to a movie, but you did go to the game, you will emphasize that information.

e.g. “Did you go to a movie last night?”
“NO, I went to the GAME.”

or if you had gone to a movie another time, the emphasis would be on the time.

e.g. “Did you go to a movie last night?”
“NO, I went to a movie on FRIDAY.

The opposite of stress is unstress; the content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adjectives) usually receive more stress in a sentence than the other words. These other words are unstressed and it is important to recognize and use the unstressed vowel sound (schwa) that occurs in such words. Schwa is the sound you hear in the first and third syllables of the word banana; it is, in fact, the most common vowel sound in the English language. Use your dictionary to check on the pronunciation of new words; the schwa sound is represented by an upside down e. The schwa sound can be represented by many of the written vowels, e.g.

‘e’ in excellent
‘i’ in medicine
‘o’ in common
‘u’ in future
‘ou’ in callous
‘io’ in nation
‘ia’ in special
‘iou’ in cautious

The individual words of the language are linked together to give the pattern of English. The individual words are not pronounced separately but form part of a stream of words that are linked together. There are two basic patterns to recognize and use.

* An initial vowel after a consonant

If a word ending in a consonant sound is followed by a word starting with a vowel sound, then the final consonant of the first word is “linked” to the initial vowel of the next word.

e.g. Take it away ® tay ki taway

* A consonant ends one word and starts another

If a word ends in a consonant sound and is followed by a word starting with another consonant sound, then the consonant sound at the end of the first word is almost unspoken. The tongue actually moves into position to make the sound, but does not complete the action; this situation is represented here by an apostrophe.

e.g. I just got a phone call ® I jus’go ta pho’call

A good way to practice is to take a short story from a newspaper (or elsewhere) and identify the pronunciation linkages and then read the article using the links.

All of these factors act together to give typical English pronunciation; your dictionary will give you the basic pronunciation. When you add the other information, however, not only will your listening skills improve, but also other people will understand you more easily.

lunes, 23 de agosto de 2010


English isn't managing to sweep all else before it -- and if it ever does become the universal language, many of those who speak it won't understand one another
by Barbara Wallraff
ECAUSE I am interested in what happens to the English language, over the past year or so I've been asking people, at dinner parties and professional gatherings and so on, whether they think that English is well on its way to being the global language. Typically, they look puzzled about why I would even bother to ask such an obvious question. They say firmly, Of course. Then they start talking about the Internet. We're just having a conversation, so I refrain from launching into everything I'm about to tell you. It's not that I believe they're actually wrong. But the idea of English as a global language doesn't mean what they think it does -- at least, not according to people I've interviewed whose professions are bound up especially closely in what happens to the English language. Join a discussion of this article in a special forum on the globalization of English.

English has inarguably achieved some sort of global status. Whenever we turn on the news to find out what's happening in East Asia, or the Balkans, or Africa, or South America, or practically anyplace, local people are being interviewed and telling us about it in English. This past April the journalist Ted Anthony, in one of two articles about global English that he wrote for the Associated Press, observed, "When Pope John Paul II arrived in the Middle East last month to retrace Christ's footsteps and addressed Christians, Muslims and Jews, the pontiff spoke not Latin, not Arabic, not Hebrew, not his native Polish. He spoke in English."

Has the globalization of English affected your work -- or your life? Join readers from around the world for a special forum in Post & Riposte.
Indeed, by now lists of facts about the amazing reach of our language may have begun to sound awfully familiar. Have we heard these particular facts before, or only others like them? English is the working language of the Asian trade group ASEAN. It is the de facto working language of 98 percent of German research physicists and 83 percent of German research chemists. It is the official language of the European Central Bank, even though the bank is in Frankfurt and neither Britain nor any other predominantly English-speaking country is a member of the European Monetary Union. It is the language in which black parents in South Africa overwhelmingly wish their children to be educated. This little list of facts comes from British sources: a report, The Future of English?, and a follow-up newsletter that David Graddol, a language researcher at The Open University, and his consulting firm, The English Company U.K., wrote in 1997 and 1998 for the British Council, whose mission is to promote British culture worldwide; and English as a Global Language (1997), a book by David Crystal, who is a professor at the University of Wales.
And yet, of course, English is not sweeping all before it, not even in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, ten years ago about one in seven people in this country spoke a language other than English at home -- and since then the proportion of immigrants in the population has grown and grown. Ever-wider swaths of Florida, California, and the Southwest are heavily Spanish-speaking. Hispanic people make up 30 percent of the population of New York City, and a television station there that is affiliated with a Spanish-language network has been known to draw a larger daily audience than at least one of the city's English-language network affiliates. Even Sioux City, Iowa, now has a Spanish-language newspaper. According to the census, from 1980 to 1990 the number of Spanish-speakers in the United States grew by 50 percent.
Over the same decade the number of speakers of Chinese in the United States grew by 98 percent. Today approximately 2.4 million Chinese-speakers live in America, and more than four out of five of them prefer to speak Chinese at home. The rate of growth of certain other languages in the United States has been higher still. From 1980 to 1990 the number of speakers of Korean increased by 127 percent and of speakers of Vietnamese by 150 percent. Small American towns from Huntsville, Alabama, to Meriden, Connecticut, to Wausau, Wisconsin, to El Cenizo, Texas -- all sites of linguistic controversy in recent years -- have been alarmed to find that many new arrivals do not speak English well and some may not even see the point of going to the trouble of learning it.
How can all of this, simultaneously, be true? How can it be that English is conquering the globe if it can't even hold its own in parts of our traditionally English-speaking country?
A perhaps less familiar paradox is that the typical English-speaker's experience of the language is becoming increasingly simplified, even as English as a whole grows more complex. If these two trends are occurring, and they are, then the globalization of English will never deliver the tantalizing result we might hope for: that is, we monolingual English-speakers may never be able to communicate fluently with everyone everywhere. If we want to exchange anything beyond rudimentary messages with many of our future fellow English-speakers, we may well need help from something other than English.
The evidence strongly suggests that the range of realistic hopes and fears about the English language is narrower than some may suppose. Much discussion of what is likely to happen to English is colored, sometimes luridly, by what people dread or desire -- for their children, their neighborhoods, their nations, their world. Human aspirations, of course, have a great deal to do with what comes to pass. And language is very much tied up with aspirations.
Last fall I visited David Graddol at The English Company's headquarters, in Milton Keynes, England. Graddol has a rumpled appearance somewhat at odds with the crisp publications, replete with graphs and pie charts and executive summaries, for which he is responsible. Similarly, the appearance of The English Company's offices, located in the ground-floor flat of a Victorian house and sparsely furnished with good Arts and Crafts antiques together with some flea-market stuff, is amiably out of keeping with the sophisticated, high-tech nature of the consultancy's work. Stuck on the wall above the stove, in the kitchen, were four clocks, each captioned with a big letter hand-drawn on a piece of paper: M, K, M, A. This was to help the staff remember what time it was in Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, and Argentina, the four sites where officials and advisers on how to teach English throughout those countries were taking part in an online seminar moderated by The English Company.
"The main message," Graddol told me, "is that the globalization of English isn't going to happen the way people expect it to." He ticked off a dizzying array of eventualities that could transform the world language picture: political alliances that have yet to be formed; the probable rise of regional trading blocs, in such places as Asia; the Arab world, and Latin America, in which the United States and other primarily English-speaking countries will be little involved; the possibility that world-changing technological innovations will arise out of nations where English is little spoken; a backlash against American values and culture in the Middle East or Asia; or the triumph of our values and culture in those places.
To understand the fundamental paradoxes of global English, though, we should focus on two realms of possibility: demographics and technology -- yes, the Internet, but much else that's technological besides.
First, Second, or Foreign Language
EOPLE who expect English to triumph over all other languages are sometimes surprised to learn that the world today holds three times as many native speakers of Chinese as native speakers of English. "Chinese," as language scholars use the word, refers to a family of languages and dialects the most widely spoken of which is Mandarin, and which share a written language although they are not all mutually intelligible when spoken. "English" refers to a family of languages and dialects the most widely spoken of which is standard American English, and which have a common origin in England -- though not all varieties of English, either, are mutually intelligible. The versions of English used by educated speakers practically anywhere can be understood by most Americans, but pidgins, creoles, and diverse dialects belong to the same family, and these are not always so generally intelligible. To hear for yourself how far English now ranges from what we Americans are used to, you need only rent a video of the 1998 Scottish film My Name Is Joe, which, though in English, comes fully subtitled.
"Native speaker" is no easier to define with any precision than "Chinese" or "English," although it means roughly what you'd think: a person who grew up using the language as his or her first. In terms of how demographic patterns of language use are changing, native speakers are not where the action is. And the difference between native speakers and second- or foreign-language speakers is an important one subjectively as well as demographically. The subjective distinction I mean will be painfully familiar to anyone who, like me, spent years in school studying a foreign language and is now barely able to summon enough of it to order dinner in a restaurant.
In any case, the numerical gap is impressive: about 1,113 million people speak Chinese as their mother tongue, whereas about 372 million speak English. And yet English is still the world's second most common native language, though it is likely to cede second place within fifty years to the South Asian linguistic group whose leading members are Hindi and Urdu. In 2050, according to a model of language use that The English Company developed and named "engco" after itself, the world will hold 1,384 million native speakers of Chinese, 556 million of Hindi and Urdu, and 508 million of English. As native languages Spanish and Arabic will be almost as common as English, with 486 million and 482 million speakers respectively. And among young people aged fifteen to twenty-four English is expected to be in fourth place, behind not only Chinese and the Hindi-Urdu languages but also Arabic, and just ahead of Spanish.
Certainly, projections of all kinds perch atop teetering stacks of assumptions. But assuming that the tallies of native languages in use today are roughly accurate, the footing for projections of who will speak what as a first language fifty years from now is relatively sturdy. That's because many of the people who will be alive in fifty years are alive now; a majority of the parents of people who will be here then are already here; and most people's first language is, of course, the first language of their parents.
Prod at this last idea, to see how it takes into account such things as immigration and bilingual or multilingual places, and you'll find that it is not rock-solid. By David Crystal's estimate, for example, two thirds of the world's children grow up in bilingual environments and develop competence in two languages -- so it is an open question what the native language of a good many of those children is. Then, too, a range of population projections exists, and demographers keep tinkering with them all.

domingo, 22 de agosto de 2010



Adverbio o Adjetivo - ¿Qué debería usar?

Adverbios de Frecuencia

Cuándo Usar 'Any' o 'Some' en Inglés

'The', 'A' y 'An'

Formas Comparativas en Inglés

Expresiones Contables e Incontables con Nombres

Nombres Contables e Incontables - Entendiendo los Nombres

Países y Lenguajes - Nombres y Adjetivos

Formas Futuras

Verbo + 'ing' O Verbo + Infinitivo


Verbos Irregulares en Tiempo Pasado en Inglés

Usos de 'Like' en Inglés

Conceptos Básicos de la Forma Modal en Inglés

Pasado Simple

Pasado Simple o Presente Perfecto

Preposiciones de Tiempo

Preposiciones de Lugar

Presente Simple

Presente Continuo

Presente Perfecto

Presente Simple o Presente Continuo

Pronombres en Inglés

Formas Superlativas - Entendiendo la Forma Superlativa en Inglés

Expresiones Temporales

viernes, 13 de agosto de 2010


What happened around 3114 BC?

Recurring Phenomenon: The Cosmic Disaster
Besides the most evident cosmic catastrophes ca. 2200 BC and 2345 BC there are other events during the Holocene that are so widely global and difficult to explain by only the Earth's own mechanisms that a cosmic explanation must evidently be taken into account.
The first so-called "Dark Age", meaning a period from which little is known despite much information before and after that period, occurred about 3100 BC to 3000 BC. For example in Mesopotamia this period is called Jemdet Nasr. About 3100 BC there was suddenly a change to more primitive ages compared to the preceding Uruk period. For example the numerical token system dwindled. 3000 BC however there was a sudden recovery. This is called the Early Dynasty, which can be described as the first known culture, that began to have some kind of a centralized system. And the tokens were not only numerated again, the basis for writing was born.
What happened 3100 BC, maybe right in 3114 BC? There is not any great crater on the continental areas, but 2/3 of the Earth's area is covered by water, and flood they speak of. In fact there are two small craters from about this time, but what seems more probable, is a huge meteorite swarm that both caused much damage on land, brought up tsunamis and blanketed with dust the atmosphere. It may have been a break-up of a great comet in the inner parts of the solar system. People were panic-stricken. The beginnings of civilizations, however, got despite of the immediate damage, a first great rise, after about a hundred years had gone. There was a great boomtime. that eventually led to the rise of the first great civilizations in the beginning of the third millennium BC.
What evidence is there then that something immemorable happened around 3100 BC than the Mayan year zero in 3114 BC? Dick Meehan has gathered some happenings around this time:
- Newgrange construction.
- Flood in paleoclimatic data.
- Stonehenge number one (the astronomical one, later versions are religious ones)
- The unification of Egypt as if a cooperation would be needed.
- Methane peak (fires).
- Cold time according to bristlecone pines.
- The coastal menhirs in Brittany.
Although anyone of these in itself would not be of any great concern, the timing of them in a frame of only 100 years, is the thing that makes us suspect that something unusual was going on. And actually beginning, the next 1000 years or so were very restless time globally.
Aftermath of this may be the 2807 BC ocean impact described by Bruce Masse in Peiser et al.: Natural Catastrophes (Oxford, 1998). If this is the great Flood Comet, as Masse seems to indicate, this explains why the Sumerian story of Flood, on which basis the Genesis Noachian Flood story is built, is combined with the story of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh reigned in the 27th century, 300-450 years before the two great cataclysms in late third millennium BC. Or was the comet or comets swarming and breaking up the whole period of 3114 BC to 2807 BC with diminishing frequency and damage ending temporarily in a great splash in the Atlantic?
The second Dark Age lasted from 2200 BC to 1900 BC. A third Dark Age seems to have followed the "tree ring event" (where the tree rings were very narrow) of 1159 BC (Baillie, A Slice through time). The Mycenean culture may be one of its victims.
Also, the end of Younger Dryas and with it the latest ice age 9700 BC seems to me too sudden and too dramatic a change to happen in an instant, as the Greenland ice cores seem to show, if we seek only terrestrial explanations. What the sudden change indicates is a mystery, but a rise by 15 degrees C in at most some decades, a rise that has remained permanent within some degrees during the last 11,700 years, indicates a catastrophe literally of cosmic dimensions.
The fourth Dark Age is Anno Domini. The beginning year is 536. That year there was reduced growth of trees in America. In China stars were not seen and a famine began. In Ireland there was "a failure of bread" for many years. Dry fog hovered globally. Mediterranean famine began 537 when the storages for food had been eated empty. The famine lasted at least two years. Socalled Justinian plague began 542. At this time the splendid but badly known culture of Moche in Peru came to a sudden end. May this 536 event also have given the Roman empire its last fatal blow? The Justinian's desperate offensive to restore the Roman empire which he launched 533 was doomed already in 537 when the Franks seized Provence.
Nile froze in 829 AD. Mayan from all lowlands disappeared in the first part of the ninth century. Vikings had easy access to almost uninhabited Western Europe islands and coast in ninth century? Were there again cosmic forces at work? Was there a tsunami in North Atlantic?
So have cosmic forces let down Sumer, the most brilliant phase of Egypt, Indus with Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan, Babylon, Shang dynasty in China, Moche culture in Peru and I dare to ask, did they put a final end to the disintegration of Roman empire that had been going on already for 200 years? Not to speak of the Flyland (Escape Country) or Altland (Oldland) or Atland in 2194 BC when the survivors escaped to Crete and established there the Minoan culture

The Mayans/Olmecs put their date at Gregorian time 3114 BC. Stonehenge I (the original astronomical one) was built near 3100 BC, as was Newgrange. The civilization of Sumer had a downfall around 3100-3000 BC, but both Sumer and Egypt then blossomed into an unprecedented and subsequently never exceeded level. Was this the paradise period in Sumer? At least the period from 3000 BC to 2350 BC seems to have been much wetter in Mesopotamia, and the Nile more generous, than the extremely dry period beginning in 2200 BC.


miércoles, 4 de agosto de 2010

Doing Business in Mexico

Cultural differences and clarity in Mexico's business world
Ilya Adler

When U.S. executives are sent to Mexico, they soon hear that Mexicans are "indirect" and "will not give you a straight answer, "especially if what needs to be communicated is unpleasant." Thus, the generalized statement about the Mexican "vagueness" is often heard among foreigners residing in Mexico.

But vagueness is only in the eyes of the beholder. In any cross-cultural experience, vagueness exists simply because in every culture language is complemented by assumptions. No matter how specific language is, it is almost impossible to avoid those assumptions. The oft-repeated complaint that Mexicans frequently miss deadlines, and/or appear to behave without accountability can be attributed to an unawareness of such assumptions. Indeed, according to George Bowman, GE Mexico's managing director of Electrical Distribution and Control, a key adjustment to be made by U.S. managers in Mexico is to demand accountability for results. "Your team will perform best when you set clearly defined targets, followed by regular progress checks," Bowman says. "If you give clear direction and the required support, your employees will jump over walls for you."

Along similar lines, Bowman also suggests attaching specific completion dates to assignments. In the absence of such dates, he finds Mexicans often simply wait to be called for information. With deadlines in place, Bowman has received assignments "before the requested date."

But the question remains, why is it necessary to spell out both an expectation of accountability and well-defined deadlines? To answer this, we need to know what each participant is taking for granted.

In mainstream U.S. culture, accountability is simply assumed, and a request for information is assumed to require a quick response. It is not necessary to say anything; it is assumed.

But in Mexico, those are not normal assumptions. Accountability needs to be specified, because often the authoritarian tradition puts the burden of accountability on the boss. Thus, transferring accountability to a subordinate is never assumed, and needs to be spelled out. Even less clear in the Mexican business world is a request that has no specific deadline. From the Mexican perspective, this is an example of vagueness in communication. The Mexican experience is that bosses often request information and other tasks, only to forget about them. Without a specific time deadline, the request appears not to be that important, thus it is put on the back-burner. We all know what it means to write a report that no one reads, or to search for information that no one uses. Thus, without a specific time set, the request simply appears to be unimportant.

Another common frustration that Mexicans and other Latin Americans have with their U.S. managers is with regards to messages that Latins hear as promises, which are in fact statements of probabilities. For example, one Mexican manager was told that in order to be promoted he would need to get a college degree. After completing his college degree, he was disappointed that his promotion did not come through. "I worked hard for two years, and got it, but still no promotion. It was an empty promise!" he said. Of course, the "promise" was actually only a probability statement, meaning that getting a college degree was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition.

Of the many challenges that the Mexico assignment brings to a manager, this is one of the more difficult to overcome. Learn to know when you are assuming, and don't think that assumptions are universally understood. Giving specific instructions and rules, however obvious they may appear, is the surest way to avoid the trap of assumptions.
Published or Updated on: September 1, 1998 by Ilya Adler © 1998
Contact Ilya Adler