The Learning Blog Topics; (for Direct Access to Each Blog Post, Just Click below on Each Relevant Hyperlink Sub-Title.)
- Free Taster Tutorial Sessions with Devereux Education.Co.Uk
- `Tutor` vis-à-vis `Facilitator`
- Language and Cultural Holidays in Southport and the North-West of the UK
- Punctuation Marks and the Concept of a Sentence
- Devereux Education.Co.Uk & the City of Liverpool
- Literature and Art Studies at Devereux Education.Co.Uk
- Language Prediction Skills and Managing Q&A`s Effectively in English
- `In at the Beginning, in at the End`: Ensuring Tutor Continuity in Language Learning
- `Brothers in Language`
- Accents, Dialects, Standard English & Snobbery
- Language & Culture: `Two Sides of the Same Coin`
- Risk-Taking with Language in Virtual Learning Environments, (VLE`s)
Free Taster Tutorial Sessions with Devereux Education.Co.Uk
When applying for new language courses, having paid the course fees, you never know whether or not the course is for you. This is even more the case with online learning.
At Devereux Education.Co.Uk, we offer you the opportunity to take part in a one-to-one free, on-line taster session that will ensure that the tution is right for you. You can discuss your unique learning style and even more importantly, your unique learning timetable. This is due to the very flexible arrangements for tuition at Devereux Education.Co.Uk.
At Devereux Education.Co.Uk, we have more than forty years of teaching Medical, ICT, Business, Legal and Academic English and of preparing clients for the IELTS test. We arrange also cultural holidays in the UK.
`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.Co.Uk does 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.
Language and Cultural Holidays in Southport and the North-West of the UK
Thus far, all of Devereux Education.Co.Uk`s blogs have been about important and I hope, interesting language issues. We thought that now was the right time to write about Devereux Education.Co.Uk`s home base, Southport.
Southport, (http://www.visitsouthport.com), is a very beautiful, elegant and smallish town and is situated on the Irish Sea coast, north of Liverpool, south of the Lake District (https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting) and west of Manchester. Historically and culturally, it is a part of Lancashire, one of the UK`s most ancient and culturally/politically important `counties`. As a result, there is so much of cultural interest to see within an hour`s drive from Lancaster House. Whether or not you are a lover of country sports, of fine-dining and traditional hotels and pubs, of historical houses, castles and villages, of churches, abbeys and cathedrals, of theatres and of traditional or classical music, there is so much genuinely British and reasonably-priced choice in our north-western part of the UK.
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 UK tourist hotspots? Devereux Education.Co.Uk has had a particular expertise in providing exclusive, high-quality and highly-customised cultural holidays which feature an included element of Professional English Language tuition.
So, 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?
Happy cultural holidaying,
Director, Devereux Education.Co.Uk
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.Co.Uk, 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 that of `a single verb or set of words which are complete in themselves`. I think that this definition is helpful. 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.
Devereux Education.Co.Uk & 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.Co.Uk, 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-constructed 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.Co.Uk has 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?
Director, Devereux Education.Co.Uk
Literature and Art Studies at Devereux Education.Co.Uk, (with Tricia Devereux BA (Hons), PGCE)
My wife Tricia has an upper-second class honours degree in English and Art and is a specialist in the study of English Literature and all aspects of art; in particular life drawing. She has been teaching for twenty-nine years.
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 have become accepted pedagogical practice for some years now.
Although Devereux Education.Co.Uk 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.Co.Uk 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.
Language Prediction Skills and Managing Q&A`s Effectively in English
Let`s imagine a satisfying, professional situation. You are coming to the end of your presentation. You know the relevant facts well and you have presented them clearly to the audience. You feel confident about the Q&A session. The first two questions confirm this confidence. Having heard the first few spoken words of each questioner, you have grasped the central themes of their questions and you have predicted correctly where the questions are `going`. Almost immediately you have `framed` your responses in your mind and you begin……………
Now, try to imagine how difficult this intellectual process is going to be for the non-native speaker of the English language. Indeed, it is a fascinating set of skills to have to teach to a client; both fascinating and every enjoyable.
Just think of the sub-skills required to complete the above task successfully:
a large memory bank of advanced-level professional vocabulary and the related collocations in both the native language and in English;
a clear ability to use these collocations to pick up the theme and focus of each question;
either a clear ability to then translate the above ideas into the native language and back into English or to think immediately about the same issues in English; finally, to be so aware of the correct and concise language structures in English that your reply is fluent, confident and `commanding`.
Devereux Education.Co.Uk has had a lot of experience of teaching the above skills. Through the use of varied and customised listening comprehension and note-taking tasks, through the use of listening cloze-procedure exercises, through the developing of personalised dictionaries with `word families` and collocations lists, Devereux Education.Co.UK has been able to help its clients create these sets of skills `in partnership`.
So, if your job demands that you manage Q&A`s effectively in English, Devereux Education.Co.Uk is the place for you!!!
`In at the Beginning, in at the End`: Ensuring Tutor Continuity in Language Learning
There is a large turnover of staff in the English language teaching world; particularly at Beginner Level, 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.Co.Uk is its `cosy` and customised nature. The majority of Devereux Education.Co.Uk`s clients stay with the company for many 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.Co.Uk`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!
Director, Devereux Education.Co.Uk.
`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.
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:
how do you use English as a native speaker;
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.Co.Uk is 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.
Director, Devereux Education.Co.Uk.
Language & Culture: `Two Sides of the Same Coin`
History shows us repeatedly that in wars, the victors attempt to destroy the indigenous languages and cultures of the losers. In the case of the British Isles, until recently, Scottish and Irish Gaelic and the Celtic languages of the Welsh and Cornish had almost disappeared as thriving, spoken and written languages. Now, it is wonderful to both see and hear these languages as one travels around the British Isles.
It is also true to say that one cannot really study a language without a reference to the culture of the country in which that language is used. For example, the stories behind English words are fascinating; the verb to `boycott` is a case in point. To know the story of the detested Captain Boycott is to enter another world, long forgotten.
Devereux Education.Co.Uk 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 link between a country`s language and its culture. To use any language within its culture must be more helpful and surely must motivate the learner more. In promoting this link, Devereux Education encourages its online clients to come to the UK to undertake intensive courses in English and to experience UK culture in all of its interesting variety.
Such courses may last for between seven and fourteen days and are held in the comfortable and informal setting of Lancaster House. The daily tuition sessions begin at 9.00 am and last usually until 4.00 pm, with a one-hour break for lunch. In the evenings, if the client wants this, a cultural programme of visits is organised.
Devereux Education.Co.Uk also has expertise and experience in organising week-long and weekend cultural holidays which are extensions to the intensive courses of Professional English described already. These cultural holidays are highly customised and aim to avoid the usual tourist hotspots and instead try to give to our clients a `real feel of the genuine UK`.
Director, Devereux Education.Co.Uk.
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…
Enjoy your risk-taking,