Thursday, April 08, 2010

Apostrophes are going cheap

Some people swear them, some others loathe them..
when to use them, when to drop them.... headache!
it's vs. its... there will be blood!

One thing I've noticed on several occasions is that apostrophes are more of an issue for native than for non-native speakers.
Odd, indeed, but true nonetheless!
Teaching beginner learners of English is a major part of my job. They come in on Day One with no English, but after about a month, they will have learnt and assimilated that 'it's' is the contraction of 'it is' and that 'its' is a possessive pronoun.
However, many native speakers mix the two forms at any given opportunity! The other day again, I read a Facebook thread on the subject... something along the lines of:
-"Facebook isn't working properly....  it's having of it's turns!"
-"haha, you made a typo!"
-"what? No, I didn't!"
etc.

Mind you, it might become common usage and therefore acceptable, who knows! After all, people dictate the rules language, not the other way round...

and yes, I really want one of these t-shirts! Check it out!
http://www.sharingmachine.com/index.php?item=33
or grammar fashion as the new black
(in my mind)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

'Beurgeois'- a new French word

Reading the paper this morning, I came across a new French word- beurgeois.
It's so new my spellcheck is going 'whaa?'
What it means:
A beurgeois is a middle-class Muslim living in France.
It is a portmanteau word combining the words 'beur', which is verlan/ slang for a person of North African descent, and the word 'bourgeois', meaning affluent.

The article from the Guardian is quite interesting; it focuses on the buying power of the emerging young Muslim middle-class and  highlights the way supermarkets deal with it.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/05/france-muslims-halal-boom
Conclusion: Halal meat is more widely available than ever and the language keeps on getting richer!

For more information/ pour plus d'informations:
http://beurgeoisie.fr/2008/06/07/dou-vient-le-mot-beurgeois/
(in French/ en fran├žais)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Word Bubbles game

Spent a lot of time playing this game today (and found myself being quite competitive!)...
The premise is dead simple; you're given a three-letter stem and have to find as many words as possible starting with this stem.
Could be useful for helping students improve their spelling (laptop on one lap, dictionary on the other!).
Going to try it in class on Wednesday morning (another 2 full days off... how many more of that game am I going to play?!)

Simple and addictive
http://www.instructables.com/community/Lumosity_Word_Bubbles_Game/

Have fun!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Some urban wisdom from Mexico

http://www.financialjesus.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/pickpockets_sign.jpg
Context: Using common signs to practice modals verbs of permission, advice and prohibition (must, can, should...)
Me: 'Where can you see this sign and what does it mean?'...
Mexican student: 'My granny used to say that you always kept her valuables safe between the twins...'
Other students: 'the twins?'
Mexican student: 'yeah, the twins...' 
To which he gets hold of his moobs, simulating a cleavage meant to reflect his gran's breasts.. the twins! Better than a safe and no risk of losing the key or forgetting the code.
Conclusion of the lesson: When on public transport, you should keep your valuables between the twins. 
Need to find out what 'stick it between the twins' is in Spanish...