The new way to avoid checking your emails every ten minutes...

Welcome to my blog! On it I'm going to post all the things we cover in class (handouts, youtube vids, useful stuff in the library, revision notes....) so it'll be in one easy to find spot. If you want to ask me anything direct (and that incluldes you, parents) then don't bother emailing me at my gmail address, but do drop me a line at my school address.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

I've had it.

In a fantastic example of being at least three years behind the average year 10 pupil, check this discussion out about how the everyday full stop has acquired a negative tone. I don't know if this counts as semantic change, more a kind of gaining semantic significance when once there was none. It leads into a neat discussion of how all sorts of punctuation is acquiring or changing meaning, and is worth a look simply for how quickly the comments section descends into rowing, with people threatening icepicks in eyes within a few lines. Remarkable.

Monday 22 July 2013

Summer Jobs

Afternoon all! I've had a few emails from people telling me they won't be in a particular lesson for a particular reason and so forth, so I though it would be a lot easier to simply post here the jobs that I want you to get on with; if you get them done in lesson time then fantastic, if not, then complete them over the summer. First of all, you need to watch the remainder of the episodes of 'The Adventure of English'. Most of you will have done the first two, so the others over 6 weeks isn't too much of a hardship. If you look to the right, you'll see I've listed the episodes in order.

After that, have a listen to this - Professor Jean Aitcheson delivered a few lectures a while ago that explain some of the attitudes to language change much better than I ever could. Make notes on the 'Web of Worries', and have a listen to some of the others if you can't face any more Jeremy Kyle / Cash in the Attic etc etc.
Any problems or questions, drop me a line.
Have a good summer!

EDIT - The link to the coursebook is here - I personally recommend the second hand option - whoever gets the cheapest option (and can prove it) wins a bag of Minstrels.

Monday 15 July 2013

New 13s? Step this way...

It was lovely to meet you all this week, and I'm sure we'll have a riot over the next academic year. This blog is a way for me to sum up what we've done weekly, along with provide electronic copies of handouts, slides, and links to people who know far more about English then I ever could.
So, to sum up this week: We've looked at two of the fundamental principles that I think underpin this course. Firstly, the idea of hierarchies: society is obsessed with putting people into hierarchies, and we see this pattern everywhere in the course. In the extract we looked at it was easy to classify various concepts into either good or bad. Things get a little more nuanced later on, but this is a simple enough place to start.
Secondly, we looked at the model that suggests pressures along the continuum.. Any use of language will be somewhere along the line, and if you can identify and comment on the pressures that act upon that level of formality, then you'll find this course a breeze.
In terms of language variation, we had a brief look at Rastamouse, as it provides us with a neat snapshot into just how angry some people can get about 'other' varieties of English, particularly where children are involved. We'll develop this a lot more later on, but for now, it's worthwhile understanding that there are lots of different attitudes to language change and variation, not all of them good.
Finally, I introduced you to Melvyn Bragg's 'The Adventure of English'. I know it's a tiny bit dry at times, but it does provide a really useful foundation for some of the stuff that we'll see later on. We'll aim to have the first two episodes done and dusted by the end of the week. Click here for episode 1, and here for episode 2.
In the meantime, if you've any problems or questions, then drop me a line at my school account. Don't bother with the Gmail one as that one never gets checked.


Monday 13 May 2013

I am a sad case hexagon addict

Here's a nice homework for you - cut out all of the hexagons that I have emailed you and bring them to the lesson on Wednesday (13D) or Thursday (13C).

Feel free to change (colour code it according to the different subheadings) as much as you like. If you aren't sure what the subheadings are, then simply check out the terminology list that I posted a few weeks ago - the subheadings are in column B.

Next lesson, you'll be given a text and then asked which ideas are applicable. Once you've got all those, then we'll organise them into logical sequences that we can then turn in to an essay. Honestly, it'll be amazing; like teaching off of Waterloo Road.

Once you've done all that, feel free to sort out your summer viewing, and talk to me not of Lost or someother somesuch nonsense - the only thing you should be watching is this - and here's Charlie Brooker to tell you all I'm right.

Any probs, etc etc, send them my way.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Overly prescriptive prescriptivists who are dead inside

When the only answer you've got to someone who argues with you is to point out the flaws in their grammar, then you've lost the argument. This piece in the Guardian looks at the winner of the inaugural 'Bad Grammar' award; a letter written to Michael Gove disagreeing with his plans for curriculum reform.
Check out what sentence parsing superhero Nevile Gwynne had to say on the phrase 'too much too young':

"Presumably they mean something like 'demands too much when children are too young to be ready for so much', but, as worded, it simply is not English," he said. "In that sentence as worded, 'too young' can only be two adverbs, 'too' qualifying the adverb 'young', and 'young' qualifying the verb 'demands', as would, for instance, 'soon' or 'early'. But 'young' is an adjective, and cannot ever be an adverb. And it certainly is not doing the work of an adjective in that sentence, because there is no noun that could be 'understood' and which would turn that sentence into English."

Not English? Please. This is nothing more than petulant error spotting, and tells us more about the people doing the spotting than the quality of the original argument. 

Thursday 25 April 2013

Shared answer 13D

Click here - and get going! I'm going to lock this for editing in a few hours - after that, I'd like you to take the work that you've completed together, and use it for the basis of your own essay. Obviously there'll be bits that you don't like, bits that you want to add, bits that you want to re-order... you get the picture. Also, while  I've got your attention, I'd like you to have a look at all these ideas / concepts / keywords that I've lifted (in order) from this book. Over the next week, it'll be up to you to make sure that you identify anything that you aren't too sure about, and make sure this is taken care of. (I'm not saying buy the book, by the way - but be aware that there are one or two copies floating about).

Edit - the 13C collaborative answer can be found here

Any problems, questions, Bell & Ross watches - send them my way.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Welcome to all my Arnold bros

Just a quick post to say hello to all the Arnold language boffins who could well be looking at this for the first time. I thought I'd take a minute to recap what we covered in class this week, and point you in the direction of some interesting sites that will be of benefit to you in the coming weeks.

First up, we've looked at some of the ways to boost some of your AO2 understanding in your answers; we looked at the ideas of hierarchies within texts or attitudes, and how to spot them, and some of the pressures that push or pull language along the standard / non standard continuum. We finally looked at Cameron's ideas about prescriptivism, which are worthwhile keeping in mind as I'd hate you to fall into the trap that some 13s do (not ones I've taught, obvs) where prescriptivist views = bad, and descriptivist = good; it's often a little more complicated than that...

Just in case you've lost them already, here is the first story we looked at (all about the Twitterbot), and here is the second - Matthew Engel's hilarious, defeatist, whingey racist nonsense. You should know the jobs I've given you - get in touch if you aren't sure. (Oh, and if you're on the Mail website, you really ought to check out the comments section. Makes my day, every day).

Talking about getting in touch, whilst I'm a big fan of the email, if you have a question that is subject based, ask it in the comments section; often someone else has a similar question or misunderstanding, and it'll save me a bit of time to answer it just the once.

Finally, if you fancy some swotting up before the exam, head off to Dan Clayton's infinitely superior blog, where you'll find all sorts of useful material. Don't worry if it seems a little daunting at first; a good place to start for you monkeys would be the ENGA3 tag, but I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Any problems, questions, issues or Bell & Ross watches, send them along to the usual address.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

It's back!

Since starting my new job, I've neglected this site a little, but from Easter I'll be back in the KS5 fold, and so I'll be posting as regularly as I can manage.

I've noticed that I've had a heap of pageviews recently, particularly on the model answer posts. If you want me to rummage around for any more, just let me know which year and month (either June or January) in the comments section below, and I'll see what I can find. Obviously I'll let Mrs Cox know, so you don't all take 'inspiration' from the same source!