Devereux Education

English Language Consultancy

`In at the Beginning, in at the End` or Ensuring Tutor Continuity in Language Learning

There is a large turnover of staff in the English language teaching world; particularly at the `lower end` where young graduates want to tour the world and earn a bit of cash on the way, working for the big language companies.

Continuity in the learning process is obviously vital, saving `orientation`, assessment and development time. One of the many advantages of learning languages with Devereux Education is its `cosy` and customised nature. The majority of Devereux Education`s clients stay with the company for six or more years because they want to gain either the high levels of the IELTS test or want continued support with translation work and Professional English in their everyday lives. The real joy of this is that eventually, clients become friends and we all visit one another and stay in homes for really wonderful cultural holidays!

Several of Devereux Education`s clients simply `stay on` to enjoy literature courses; even the ICT guys, which is something of a triumph!

So, forget the `Big Boys` and come and join a small language school which works!

Chris Devereux,

Director, Devereux Education.

Fly-Fishing as a Part of Our Cultural Activities Programme at Devereux Education

Well, I never would have thought that I would be writing about one of my passions as a blog article for the Devereux Education website. However, there must be one or two linguists or language learners out there in cyber-space who, like me, really enjoy a `dance` with a Brown Trout!!

 

Of course, Devereux Education offers many types of language learning and cultural holidays about which I have written in previous blogs. However, fly-fishing is one activity which needs to be celebrated more here in the north of England, where we have some exciting and relatively inexpensive river `beats` as we say in English. Within a reasonable drive from Lancaster House there are beats where you can fish all day from as little as £5.00. There is also the opportunity to have two days of fishing with an overnight stay at a five-star hotel, where the fishing will cost between £30 and £40 for the day. Accommodation at these hotels varies between £60 and £300 per night for the room and for breakfast.

 

I am sure that interested clients would understand that it is not possible to provide full details of the costs of such fly-fishing cultural activities as each fishing trip would be customised and so would be planned and negotiated in a very personal way. If you are interested in this activity, then please do not hesitate to contact me via the contacts page of the Devereux Education website.

 

One final point; personally, I enjoy casting for the Brown Trout, but there are also opportunities for salmon fishing if you enjoy a real fight!

 

Happy hunting,

Chris Devereux.

 

 

Literature Studies at Devereux Education

For some time, Reading for Pleasure Groups and Therapeutic Reading Groups have both been features of the UK language education landscape. Using the novel as a theme for developing language skills and audience awareness has become accepted pedagogical practice for some years now.

 

Although Devereux Education tends to use a Structuralist Approach to language learning, there have been many occasions on which the use of this Communicative Approach has been seen to be more appropriate and therefore applied.

 

Equally true is the fact that literature studies have been a feature of the `Language and Culture` programmes provided by Devereux Education and these have been referred to in previous blogs.

 

Accordingly, if for example, you would like to combine a visit to, or walking tour of, our beautiful English Lake District with the study of the poetry of The Wordsworths or the writings of Ruskin and William Morris, then a customised and intimate literature studies course can be organised easily for you.

 

For details of, and cost quotes for such studies, please contact me via 00447985293791 or via www.devereuxeducation.co.uk

 

Happy reading,

Chris Devereux.

Brothers in Language

The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel is actually a rather intriguing and logical account of the beginnings of the Earth`s first `civilisation` speaking with one language but then breaking up due to disputes, wars and population pressures. The result of these problems was the development of various languages and cultures. Of course, the histories of the other parts of our Earth, sadly but inevitably, have followed the same pattern.

What has been true with the `Fertile Crescent` has been true also with Europe! We Brits know all about the Vikings, the Romans and 1066AD. Yet, as Devereux Education continues its work with the peoples of Europe and in particular with its work in France and Germany, we are very conscious of this language link.

Despite our recent `warring history` with both nations, it is really true to say that we are brothers in language; (and apologies to Dire Straits for parodying the title of one of their most-loved songs!)

The language history trail begins with the Romans. Their input into `English` is so obvious as to not be worth the mention.  Three hundred or so years later, the `Viking tribes` of Southern Sweden spread South into Northern Germany and then West into Denmark. These tribes then join up with others and take a look at, and a liking with, a smallish island just across the North Sea. Their language/s then become mixed with the locals`. Still later in 1066, the Normans invade and are determined to eradicate, the ugly native languages but instead are drawn into marriage with these natives and begin to lose the battle. Finally, Geoffrey Chaucer completes the rout and `rescues English` forever.

So today, it is not just the language teacher`s fascination with a communality of vocabulary of English, Latin, French and German which is evident, but there is a fascination also with the structures of these languages. The equivalences of such basic greetings as `Good day!`, `Bonjour!` and `Guten Tag!` are all clear and obvious examples of a common vocabulary and structure.  Equally clear is the way in which, only fairly recently, English word order has changed. If you have ever read the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, you will see in the text that there were Elizabethan English word order parallels with those to be found in German.

I will not bore the reader with the countless other examples of this communality but rather will finish by writing, with a heavy heart as we remember respectfully the hundredth anniversary of those dreadful battles of the First World War, that I really wish that all sides in the conflict had been taught, and had taken to heart, that they were brothers in language and so could have been brothers in arms too.

Chris Devereux

Punctuation Marks and the Concept of a Sentence

A pedagogical focus on the teaching of the use of punctuation marks is not a particularly fashionable idea at the moment. Such teaching may appear complex, boring and indeed irrelevant in an age of computer error-checkers and a more relaxed attitude to international norms of grammar use in English.

 

For Devereux Education, this seeming lack of a desire to pursue such a tuition focus results in the missing of a great opportunity to talk about the concept of a sentence. For me personally, this discussion began with the introduction of the very first UK National Curriculum and the Key Stage One SAT`s in which seven-year olds were expected to be able to `demarcate a sentence by using a full-stop and a capital letter`. This educational goal caused much controversy and begs the question of whether many adults, never mind seven-year olds, would be able to explain confidently what a sentence is.

 

One definition is of `a set of words which is complete in itself`. I think that this definition is helpful, though not quite correct. Other traditional definitions express the need for a subject, verb and object or for their complex equivalent names which are used by linguists. For me, a sentence is a spoken or written word or group of words which may be responded to; for example, “Hello(.)” or “Help(!!)”; the latter of the two requiring an obvious exclamation mark to express a degree of concern.

 

Of course, not all of the languages of the world use punctuation marks. Where punctuation marks have been developed in a language, they have become very useful `cues` for the reader to express himself or herself appropriately. Thus, commas are there for the shortest of pauses when reading aloud, semi-colons and colons are there for the `mid-length` pauses between clauses and full-stops reflect the need for longer pauses between sentences and paragraphs. Many book titles and chapter headings do not require full-stops as they do not need responses from the reader. Instead, the necessary and useful capital letters help the readers` eyes to focus on the key words in the titles, thus aiding paragraph content prediction.

 

Other punctuation marks help the reader even more to `read ahead` via the eyes` amazing saccade movements and thus provide him or her with a greater understanding of what is happening in the text as the `story` unfolds. The specific rules for the use of speech marks, (as opposed to the often inappropriately used quotation marks), are a clear example of this. The rules governing the use of the colon at the end of an introductory clause in a list, where the bullet points are separated by semi-colons, as part of a very long sentence, help the reader to skim and to scan the text, and so to understand a complicated and lengthy piece of text, by separating it physically into manageable portions.

 

 

 

Ireallyhopethatyouhavefoundthisblogtobeofinterestandthatitmayencourageyoutoexploremorethefascinating

worldofpunctuationifyouhaveanyquestionsorcommentsthenpleasedonothesitatetocontactme

 

Chris Devereux

 

Risk-Taking with Language in Virtual Learning Environments, (VLE`s)

Let`s imagine a learning situation in a face-to-face, (F2F), classroom. The students/clients have begun an English Language writing task and the teacher, wanting to maximise assessment opportunities, is walking around the room helping the class when and where appropriate.

This is a memory which I have from school and it is a memory which makes me feel uncomfortable. There was a sense that `in the old days`, the teacher was `breathing down your neck`, ready to pounce on each and every mistake. Mercifully, the modern education system in the UK is no longer like this. Language classes are more interactive and communicative, with a major focus on the setting of differentiated tasks for mixed-ability students.
However, it would be fair and true to say that in my long experience of teaching and studying English, I have come across clients and colleagues who have come from countries where the educational culture is still as it was in post-war Britain; the result being that these students are simply terrified of making mistakes and therefore are very reluctant to experiment or take risks in their use of English.

Personally, I think that it is very important for the teacher to give enough confidence to his or her clients so that they can take risks when using English or any other language as a Non-Native Speaker. What do I mean exactly? Well, in my experience of both speaking, and teaching speaking skills in, English, French or Russian, for example, there is a point at which you have to forget about the use of `perfect grammar` and simply `go for it` in terms of having a conversation or discussion.

This experience and belief have led me to think more and, in fact conduct research, about the particular benefits of using VLE`s with regard to promoting risk-taking in language learning. The `psychology of VLE learning` and how learning differs in VLE`s as opposed to F2F classes, really is an important and fascinating subject.

When using VLE`s confidently and correctly, there is a sense that one is there in the room with one`s clients or students, using facial gestures and emotional encouragement to develop their confidence. Yet, with clicks of the webcam and microphone `on/off` buttons, they are left in their own world, to get on with the set task.

A lot has been written about the benefits of using computer and mobile-phone technology in education; for example, learning in the relaxed atmosphere of one`s home, being able to study at the most convenient time in one`s working week, being able to postpone or cancel tuition sessions without wasting the travel time of either the teacher or client. In many ways, these benefits are obvious. However, the developing of risk-taking or student/client autonomy in learning is more much controversial and complex.

So, if you are either a language teacher or learner and want to add to the discussion, then please respond to the blog or do not hesitate to contact me at Devereux Education via…

00447985293791, www.devereuxeducation.co.uk or info@devereuxeducation.co.uk.

Enjoy your risk-taking,
Chris Devereux.

Accents, Dialects, Standard English & Snobbery

In a previous blog, `Language & Culture: Two Sides of the Same Coin`, I had discussed the link between cultural domination and the enforced use of a particular language. In this blog, we will think about a more complex, but related issue.

The important questions are:

  1. how do you use English as a native speaker;
  2. why do you want to learn English as a non-native speaker?

As a native speaker, one may wish either to entertain or inform and this is a really important issue. If one is a `performance artist` of any type, then the aim is to make use of the UK`s regional accents and dialects to reflect the particular histories of our wonderful, native culture. For me, the `Geordie` dialect is very beautiful with its rich, high tones and amazing vocabulary. Of course, this dialect may prove to be completely incomprehensible to the learner of English.  If one`s role is to inform others working in one`s chosen profession, then the Standard English of the perfect `Radio 4` presenter is an obvious necessity.

The poverty of the many past discussions about the above lay in their absence of an emphasis on the reasons for English language use. One had to use Standard English in all circumstances because this then became the evidence of one`s social status.

You do not believe me?!? Well, surely we all have heard the family stories of our grandparents in which the pupils of the past were reprimanded for speaking in the local accent or dialect. No, `away with` language snobbery and instead, let us emphasise an appropriate use of language which celebrates all forms of spoken and written English.

Devereux Education and its associate schools, the Liverpool Online Language School, the Preston Language School and the Southport Language School are very aware of the importance of this issue. If you want to use your English more appropriately or if you want to learn English for any of the above reasons, then do not hesitate to contact me via the website link below.

Chris Devereux,

Director, Devereux Education.

www.devereuxeducation.co.uk

Devereux Education & Its Associated Language Schools

Devereux Education and its associate schools, the Liverpool Online Language School, the Preston Language School and the Southport Language School for some time have had a particular expertise in providing exclusive, high-quality and highly customised Professional English Language tuition and cultural holidays in all three cities and towns of the north-west of the UK. This tuition provision began in 1999 and focuses on English for Specific/Professional Purposes, (ESP), English for Medical Professionals, (EMP), English for Academic Purposes, (EAP) and preparation courses for the IELTS Academic Test.

Devereux Education provides online tuition in the majority of cases because this form of learning is perfect for the busy modern professional who requires flexibility when it comes to timetabling sessions. Whenever tuition sessions have to be cancelled at the last minute due to unexpected and additional work commitments, there is a never a cancellation fee applied.

Of course, some clients really want the provision of a `live tutor` in the same tuition space and this is never a problem. Devereux Education never `over-reaches` its ability to provide what has been promised. This is a real `plus` of the small language school; flexibility, ease of adapting to clients` particular needs, trust, a professional ethos, detailed assessment data, continuity in the learning process and dependability.

Why not give us a `try` and in doing so, refer to the `Previous and Current Clients` link on the `About` page of our website.

Chris Devereux,

Director, Devereux Education.

`Tutor` vis-à-vis `Facilitator`

A discussion about the differences in the meanings of these two words, and in particular of the latter example of educational jargon, is very interesting actually. The `Communicative Methodology` of language teaching which has become both popular and prevalent in the UK during the last thirty years, though useful, has its problems. At worst, the teacher/tutor may see his or her role as being nothing more than to facilitate self-learning. Thus, it follows that the facilitator simply sets the learning tasks and allows the students or clients to work on their own with the facilitator`s focus being on individualised learning.

Devereux Education and its associate schools, the Liverpool Online Language School, the Preston Language School and the Southport Language School do not agree with such a `laissez-faire` model of learning. In the educational process, it seems obvious that the teacher/tutor has to be a `model` to the students and clients; a model in the sense that the teacher/tutor has professional knowledge, expertise and experience. These professional skills imply that at the beginning of each learning session, the tutor imparts knowledge and allows for a questioning time by the students/clients in order to deal with any misunderstanding or confusion. Following this, one would hope that differentiated learning tasks would be described, explained and then set.

A more important principle in this discussion of educational terminology is that of the `Independent Learner`. This latest example of educational jargon is actually really important and here I quote a well-known phrase; namely, `All good teachers do themselves out of a job!` Whereas badly organised, communicative methodological teaching may just lead to a `free-for-all` in the classroom and the `teacher-as-model` methodology may be nothing more than old-fashioned and boring `Chalk & Talk`, helping your student or client to become an independent learner is a goal worth working hard for.

I find this to be the case all with all of my clients who have just entered the advanced-level/C1 and C2/IELTS 7 and 8 stages of language learning. These individuals stand atop the mountain of learning, are able to see the summit nearby and are able to enjoy the views of the `valleys` below; valleys through which they have travelled via their hard work guided by the tutor as both a model and facilitator.

I think that it is at these levels of learning that the teacher/tutor has to make very important decisions. Firstly, the client must be allowed to take a more active part in planning the future learning session content. Secondly, the teacher/ tutor should allow the students/clients to solve their own language problems where this is time-efficient; the idea being that they will remember more from what they have worked out for themselves as opposed to what they have been told.

Accordingly, if you want to be involved in a `serious` educational course which has at its core the above positive features and positive outcomes for your chosen career, then please do not hesitate to contact me via the various website contact points.

 

Chris Devereux,

Director, Devereux Education.

Devereux Education & the City of Liverpool

Let`s continue with the cultural aspect blogs. Where do I begin to write about the city of my birth, Liverpool?

Liverpool, (http://www.visitliverpool.com), has recovered fully from the devastation of the damage caused by the bombing of the Second World War, and truly, now is a `world-class city`. Having been brought up in its eastern suburbs but having gone to school in the city centre, I know Liverpool very, very well. Both Paul Mc`Cartney and George Harrison of The Beatles went to the same school as I did and both were taught by my French language teacher. If you are a devotee of this group, then Devereux Devereux, via its city tour, can provide you with a personal insight into its musical influence on Liverpool, on the UK and on the world.

It is an often-repeated fact that Liverpool has `more listed` buildings than any other UK city outside London. It has the most beautiful and recently re-constucted city waterfront in the world and boasts two very different but architecturally important cathedrals which reflect the religious heritages of the city. The Irish cultural influence on the city has brought with it a musical diversity, sharp wit and sense of humour.

As I have written previously, why would you, as part of a large but impersonal group, want to be dragged around on visits to the usual, over-crowded and most-frequented tourist hotspots? Devereux Education and its associate schools, the Liverpool Online Language School, the Preston Language School and the Southport Language School for some time have had a particular expertise in providing exclusive, high-quality and highly-customised cultural holidays which feature an included element of Professional English Language tuition.

Again, if you are really keen on having a genuine cultural experience, why not contact us via our website and begin a discussion on your journey of a lifetime?

Enjoy Liverpool,

Chris Devereux,

Director, Devereux Education.