Friday, June 30, 2017

English World 2 Unit 6 Grammar In Conversation p.69

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

Cut up and Scramble Transcript: drive, docs, pub

Look at all these things!
Whose are they?
I don’t know.  Whose jacket is this?


It’s Ben’s jacket.
Whose crayons are these?


They’re Meg’s crayons.
Are these your books?


Show me.  Yes, they’re our books.
Are these your pens?


Yes, they’re our pens.
Here you are.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

hang vs hung

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A colleague messaged me:

Joel, "hung by his neck" or "hanged by his neck"?
I responded:

So, I'd say this is a case where they're identical.  It's an irregular verb that is slowly being regularized over time 
He then said:

Yeah, I think hanged vs hung is more of a prescriptive rule, really. Still, I encountered this example produced by a well-read native speaker, so I thought maybe there's a minute difference because there's an object, i.e. someone is hanged but if someone is hanged by the neck then the focus is more on the action of hanging and hence it's hung ... I'm probably just overthinking things. 
I said:

There might actually be something to it. I'll add it to my list of "Grammar Questions I can't Answer" 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5: Review Unit 5

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

Pokemon PowerPoint: driveslidespub
Quizlet: drive, docs, pub

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Study at home: J2A Unit 5 Vocabulary

Monday, June 26, 2017

So the folks at take on the weirdness of the Gremlins Movie:

6 Bizarre Implications Of The Gremlins Films - Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder

As for me, I listed Gremlins as one of my favorite films of all time over here.

A couple notes:
1) A lot of the bizarre tonal shifts in Gremlins that complains about are actually intentional--i.e. the filmmakers were intentionally trying to make a black comedy with Gremlins.

2) But... I didn't realize this as a kid.  I was too young to understand movie genre cliches and the subversion of those cliches.  I thought this was just how horror movies usually worked.  And I'm willing to bet it was the same for most of my generation.
It wasn't until I got older that I realized how intentionally bizarre Gremlins was.
It is partly that mix of childhood nostalgia mixed with the fascination for everything bizarre in this movie that puts Gremlins on my 10 ten favorite films of all time list.

English World 2 Unit 5 Class Composition p.65

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub
Running Dictation: drive, docs, pub

Yet another installment in "Hey, I know that guy!"  (Or in this case--those guys)

Nora Gleason Interviews Stewart Gatsi [FULL INTERVIEW ]

Both the interviewer and the interviewee are friends/co-workers of mine.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5 Listening p.64

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

PowerPoint: Drive, slides, pub
Transcript: drive, docs, pub
Production: drive, docs, pub
Interesting Random Facts--The Kingdom of Kush in the Bible

So, this Extra History video here  mentioned the Kingdom of Kush, which got me thinking:

The Kingdom of Kush is one of those names that I remember from Bible class in my school days, but I suddenly realized that I know nothing about it.

Wikipedia article on the ancient Kingdom of Kush here.

Also according to Wikipedia, the Bible identifies the Kingdom of Kush with Cush, the oldest son of Ham, son of Noah.
Cush was the father of Nimrod, and, according to Wikipedia, the Bible gets a bit confused with the exact location of the land of Cush, and Cush is alternately identified in Scripture with the Kingdom of Kush, ancient Sudan, and/or the Arabian Peninsula.[1].

For a list of all the times the Cush is mentioned in the Bible, see here.
This made me laugh:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

English World 2 Unit 5 Reading p.62-63

(Supplementary Material for Specific Textbooks--English World 2)

Pre-Reading Powerpoint: drive, slides, pub

TEFLology Podcast: TEFL Interviews 31: Jennifer Jenkins on Global Englishes

(TEFLology Podcast)

New episode of TEFLology HERE.

I mentioned in my original review that TEFLology has somehow managed to get access to some of the biggest names in the field for their interview series.

This is yet another huge name.

Jennifer Jenkins is one of the most controversial names in English language teaching.

To quote from her entry in Wikipedia:

When Jenkins' book Phonology Of English As An International Language was published in 2000 it was seen as potentially controversial[3] and stimulated debate about the prevailing emphasis on "correct" accents in teaching English as a foreign language, and Jenkins' idea of a "Lingua Franca Core". This is a core list of pronunciation features which ELF speakers need to master in order to be mutually intelligible.[5] Jenkins' idea that English is "an international language and as such no longer the preserve of its native speakers" has been seen as a challenge to teachers of English.[6]

I first heard about Jennifer Jenkins while doing my Masters in Applied Linguistics.  The professor assigned us one of Jenkins's articles.  I don't remember anything from the article now, but I remember a little bit of the discussion.
At first the professor stayed neutral and allowed the class to debate the issue, but when the class started to turn against Jenkins's ideas, the professor joined in with the condemnation.  The professor said that not enough research had been done to justify the selection of phonemes that Jennifer Jenkins had chosen for the Lingua Franca Core.

Jennifer Jenkins's name has also popped up in some of the books I've read on TESOL  and I've mentioned her name before in one of my book reviews.

Unfortunately, my memory has grown foggy, and I've forgotten exactly what Jennifer Jenkins was proposing in concrete terms--if indeed I ever knew in the first place.

Which phonemes was Jenkins proposing as part of the Lingua Franca Core?  Was she proposing it as a receptive model, or a productive model?  I don't remember.

Much of the interview consisted on Jennifer Jenkins just responding to her critics, which left me slightly confused as to what she exactly was proposing.

It might have been nice to first bring the listener up to speed on what exactly Jennifer Jenkins's theories are, and then listen to Jennifer Jenkins respond to her critics.

I understand that the interview subject herself probably doesn't have the time or patience to sit through a recap of her work, but maybe theTEFLologists could have recorded a separate episode of themselves talking about her theories, and then aired that as kind of a bonus episode that could also have served as an introduction to this interview.

If the TEFLologists will forgive the unsolicited advice, this is my suggestion for the next time they get access to another really big name.  Maybe after they record the interview, but before they release it, it would be cool to do an extra episode of themselves talking about the interview subject to get all the listeners up to speed.  They could release it as a separate episode, but it could also function as an introduction to the interview.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the interview with Jennifer Jenkins for what it was.  She was very articulate.   And I thought she was very perceptive on exactly why her theories have had such an emotional reaction.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cinemassacre reviews Planet of the Apes

I'm also a huge fan of this movie.  In fact, I put it in my list of my top 10 movies of all time (see here).
I agree with Cinemassacre that it's impossible these days to see this movie unspoiled.  I certainly knew what the ending was long before I ever saw the movie.

Interesting Random Facts--The Gibeonites

Via Wikipedia

After the destruction of Jericho and Ai, the people of Gibeon (Hivites) sent ambassadors to trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a treaty with them. According to the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to destroy all inhabitants of Canaan. The Gibeonites presented themselves as ambassadors from a distant, powerful land. Without consulting God (Joshua 9:14), Israel entered into a covenant or peace treaty with the Gibeonites. The Israelites soon found out that the Gibeonites were actually their neighbours, living within three days walk of them (Joshua 9:17) and Joshua then realised that he had been deceived; however, he kept the letter of his covenant with the Gibeonites to let them live in exchange for their servitude, deciding to have them assigned as woodcutters and water-carriers and condemning (cursing) them to work forever in these trades (Joshua 9:3-27). Theologian John Gill suggests that this curse was a particular example of the curse which Noah inflicted on all of Canaan:
Then he (Noah) said:
"Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren".[7]
In retaliation for allying with the Israelites, the city was later besieged by a coalition of five other Amorite kings led by Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, along with Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua, who led the subsequent victory over the Amorites amid miraculous circumstances, including deadly hailstones and the suspension of the movement of the sun and moon until the Amorites were completely defeated. (Joshua 10:1-15)
2 Samuel 21:2 indicates that Saul pursued the Gibeonites and sought to kill them off "in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah". (2 Samuel 21:5)
Much later, after the death of Absalom and king David's restoration to his throne, Israel was visited by a grievous famine, which was believed to be as a result of King Saul's treatment of the Gibeonites. (2 Samuel 21:1)
German teenagers shoot at Thai king with rubber pellets

I don't know what your upbringing was like, but boy oh boy, would I have been in trouble at home if I had shot rubber pellets at the King of Thailand as a teenager.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Cynical Historian Reviews:
All the Way | Based on a True Story

My own take is here.  If you read my review, I'm pretty much in agreement with everything he says.
The only place where we disagree is that he says this movie could be boring if you watch it all the way straight through.  I, on the other hand, was fascinated by it the whole time.

The lion is the stronger animal

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is another grammar question that comes not from a student but from a colleague.

The colleague was marking the student's homework.

The textbook had asked the question: "Which animal is stronger?"  (The question was accompanied by a picture of a lion and a sheep).

The intended correct answer was: "The lion is stronger."

But the student had written: "The lion is the stronger animal."

My colleague asked me what I thought.  "Yeah, it's correct," I said.  "I'd give him the point."

I would have been content to leave it at that, but my colleague wanted to pursue the matter further, and figure out exactly way the answer appeared to be grammatically correct, and yet still sounded slightly wrong to him.
So we batted around a couple of ideas.

My colleague suggested the sentence itself was non-native like.

I thought the sentence itself was absolutely fine, but perhaps sounded strange in this context.  After thinking about it for a bit, I suggested that possibly the problem was that the question was intended to elicit an adjective as the answer.  When the student responded with a noun phrase, it sounded slightly off to our ears because we were expecting an adjective phrase as the answer.

But I'll throw this one out to the Internet for a second opinion.  Did I explain this correctly?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A fool and his money are soon parted

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

Okay, yet another grammar question I created for myself.  Yet again this is from my proverbs lessons.

This one has to do with articles.

Perhaps if I was smart, I would just leave the articles alone, and not attempt to analyze the use of articles in all of the proverb lessons.  Because man-oh-man, does the use of articles get confusing in English.  (If I had started this Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer series 10 years ago, I bet I'd have a whole blog full of questions about articles by now.  I can't even count the number of times questions about articles have stumped me in class.)

However, Scott Thornbury does not shy away from analyzing articles in his Beyond the Sentence book, and since I was using that book as inspiration for my proverb lessons, I tried to follow his example and have the students analyze all the articles.

In "The pen is mightier than the sword" --Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub)--I had my students analyze why the proverb used the definitive article.  i.e. why was it "the pen" and "the sword" instead of "a pen" and "a sword"  .  The answer I directed them to was that the proverb was referring to things in general.  It wasn't just that one particular pen was mightier than one particular sword.  It was that pens were mightier than swords in general.

So, then, if that's the explanation I gave for "The pen is mightier than the sword", what then to do about "A fool and his money".  Why isn't it "the fool and his money" ?

I thought this over for a while, and the answer I used for that lesson was that "the" would refer to all fools in general.  But that wouldn't work here, because not all fools have money.  Some fools have money, and some don't.  So we need to look at one particular case in which a fool happens to have money.  Thus "a fool".    And that's the answer I used for the lesson --Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub),

But that was just what I came up with out of desperation.  I'm not 100% sure I'm analyzing it right.
History Buffs Reviews Tora! Tora! Tora!

My own review is here.

You'll notice I cover many of the same points that he does.  (I was also impressed at how meticulously the film was, impressed at the practical effects, expressed concern about how the movie lacks suspense.)

Also, the History Buff gives some background on the Pearl Harbor attack, which shows that the war was about oil.  See my post on The World at War, the section: It’s Always About the Oil

Also, History Buffs references the Nostalgia Critics review of Pearl Harbor, and I also agree this review is a classic.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is another question I created for myself.

Since I started doing the proverbs lessons, I've committed myself to pulling apart and dissecting all the grammar of common English proverbs.  (As inspired by Scott Thornbury's example in Beyond the Sentence).

But in committing myself to this project, I sometimes find myself ending up with proverbs I don't know how to analyze.

For example: "Out of sight, out of mind" ----Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub),

"sight" and "mind" are simple enough.  (They're both nouns).  But how to classify "out" and "of" .  Is "of" a preposition modifying "out" ?
I've consulted some dictionaries that say "out of" is to be regarded as just one word, and it functions as a preposition.

So "out of sight" is a prepositional phrase then?  "Out of" is the preposition, and "sight" is the object of the preposition?  But then what is the prepositional phrase modifying?

I took a stab at reconstructing the full sentence, and my guess: "If something is out of sight, then it is also out of mind".  Is this correct?

The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer

(Book Review)

Why I Read this Book / My History With Gandhi

Like a lot of people, my primary knowledge of Gandhi was from the 1982 Richard Attenborough film Gandhi (W).  It's a 3 hour movie that was shown to us at high school, in its entirety, not once but twice. One of my 10th grade social studies teachers showed it to us, and then one of my 12th grade social studies teachers also showed the whole thing to us.

In retrospect, watching this 3 hour movie twice does seem like a waste of valuable classroom time.  But that's in retrospect.  I didn't complain about it at the time.  (When my 12 grade social studies teacher started showing this movie, it never occurred to any of us to let him know we had already seen it in 10th grade).

And, actually, there's an argument to be made for movies as educational tools.  A good movie sticks in your memory in a way that a textbook or a lecture does not.  If my social studies teacher had lectured us about Gandhi, I probably wouldn't have remembered it.  But because the drama of the movie stuck in my mind, all these years later I remember perfectly about Gandhi and Nehru and Jinnah and Amritsar and the partition of India, et cetera.

Since I've become an adult, I've also rented the movie several times over the years, and watched it again on my own.  (I included it in my top 10 movies of all time list).

In fact, for far too many years, virtually all of my knowledge of India came from Richard Attenborough's film.  But a thorough knowledge of that film has been enough to keep me up to speed in several conversations about Indian history.  (For example, when I spent a hiking trip chatting about Indian history with a Japanese professor of India back in 2005, I was able to keep up in that conversation solely because of my knowledge of the 1982 Ganhdi movie.)

I've been meaning to read a proper biography of Gandhi for ages now, and have put it off for far too long.
But then, while browsing the bookstores in Saigon, I saw this on the shelves and thought: "perfect!"

About this Book
Apparently this is the book that the 1982 movie was based on.  (According to both the publisher's blurb on the back cover, and according to Wikipedia).  I didn't realize this when I first picked up this book, but after so many years of watching the movie, I suppose it's fitting that I should read the book it's based on.
Just like the movie, the book starts out with a detailed description of Gandhi's assassination and funeral, and only then jumps back to look at his life.  (This must have been where the movie got that structure from.)
I also recognized some of the dialogue from the movie in this book.  (Again, this obviously must have been the source they were drawing from.)

This book was originally published way back in 1950, but it's still being sold in bookstores now.  (That's probably unusual for a biography.)

The author of the book, Louis Fisher, is someone I never heard of before, but apparently he led an interesting life himself--see his Wikipedia bio.

Louis Fisher had actually spent some time with Gandhi during Gandhi's life, and throughout the book he frequently makes references to his conversations with Gandhi.
The author fully inserts himself into the book in Chapter 23 of Part 2, which is entitled "My Week with Gandhi".
This is probably self-serving on Fisher's part, and occasionally it does come across like he's making too much of his acquaintance with Gandhi.  But on the plus side, it does also help to liven up the biography and add a personal touch to the narrative.
(Fisher also references conversations he had with Nehru and Jinnah in the book.)

The Review
Louis Fisher writes well (a journalist by trade) and this book is a pleasure to read.
In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I think it merits a place on the list of my Favorite Narrative History Books.
With a caveat--Fisher frequently breaks his narrative to editorialize about how great Gandhi is.  But if you can put up with a little of that, then the book on the whole is great story-telling.

The book covers the whole of Gandhi's life.  There are brief sections describing the wider history of India, but for the most part the focus is kept solely on Gandhi.  (For example, Subhas Chandra Bose (W) is barely mentioned in this biography, even though he was also very influential during these same years.)

Louis Fisher is a great admirer of Gandhi, and has very little critical to say about him.  I'm not expert enough to judge whether this is an omission or not.  It's possible that in real life Gandhi just left very little behind for the honest biographer to criticize.  (More on this in the sections below).

And that's really all I have to say about the book in general terms.
In specifics, I'll detail all my various thoughts down below.

Evaluation of Gandhi (as described by Louis Fischer)

The portrayal we get of Gandhi in Louis Fischer's book is of someone who was really too good for this world.
When you read a lot of history, you realize perhaps how rare men like Gandhi actually are.  History is full of selfish cruel people doing selfish cruel things.
Someone like Gandhi, who was so principled, and pure and honest, almost takes your breath away as you read it.

You wonder how he could possibly have been so good, and at the same time you lament that the rest of humanity can't live up to his example.

Gandhi is probably especially unique in the world of politics.
Gandhi didn't want to defeat his opponents.  He wanted to convert his opponents.  In his political campaigns, he never sought to take unfair advantage of his opponents, and he always trusted in the goodwill of his opponents.

But if an individual like Gandhi re-affirms your faith in humanity, unfortunately reading about the events that Gandhi lived through will shatter that same faith.
The religious hatred, riots, and massacres that took place during the partition of India and Pakistan are all recorded in this book, and they are difficult reading.  If Gandhi represents humanity at its best, the massacres that took place during the partition represent humanity at its worst.  It is shocking the evil that one human being is capable of perpetrating on another.
These massacres took place during the end of Gandhi's life, and it is depressing to think that Gandhi spent his whole life preaching non-violence in India, and then these horrible massacres happened anyway.

The Politics of Gandhi
During my student days, I attended some non-violence training seminars prior to mass protests.  (At the protests recounted here and here.)

One of the things I remember about these training sessions is the debate over exactly what "non-violence" means.
I had previously had a very technical definition of non-violence.  (Non-violence means not using any physical force).  But the workshop organizers encouraged us to think about whether being verbally abusive or hateful was congruent with a philosophy of non-violence.

I was reminded of this when reading about Gandhi's politics, and compared it to the politics of today.

Gandhi believed not only in technical non-violence, he believed in showing love and respect to your opponent.
For example, when Gandhi was invited to talks with the British Viceroy, many Indians objected to the idea of meeting with the enemy.  Gandhi responded:

"We may attack measures and systems," Gandhi replied.  "We may not, we must not attack men.  Imperfect ourselves, we must be tender towards others and be slow to impute motives..." (p.199)
It made me think about the political climate in the US today.
Although many protesters today are technically non-violent, we still fall into the trap of personally attacking men instead of attacking measures and systems.
And I (on my this blog and on my twitter account) have been as guilty of this as anyone.
But after reading this biography, I begin to wonder if we should follow Gandhi's example, and stop the personal attacks against Republicans and Trump.

A couple months ago, when reading about how Kim Davis was being sued by same-sex marriage advocates, I blogged about how kicking Kim Davis when she was down was incongruent with Gandhi's philosophy of loving and respecting your opponent.
That feeling of bonhomie lasted about a day or two, I think, and then I was back on Twitter saying awful things about Trump and the Republicans.

As inspired as I was by Gandhi, it's difficult to follow his example consistently.  To actually be like Gandhi would entail getting control of your emotions.  And few people manage to do this.

But I will try to be a better person in the future.

Gandhi and His Critics

I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Gandhi's biography, and he commented, "Oh really?  One hears so much negative stuff about Gandhi nowadays, I wonder what the biography says."

I thought this was interesting.  Surely the overwhelmingly amount of stuff you hear on Gandhi is positive, right?  The man is one of the greatest heroes of the modern world.

But maybe in this day and age, everyone's a contrarian.  And everyone loves reading click-baity articles about how this person you'd been told to admire admire really turned out to be awful.  (See, for example, The Real Mahatma Gandhi by everyone's favorite contrarian Christopher Hitchens.)

There have always been a number of critiques of Gandhi from the Right, but I've never been concerned with that.  They're not my tribe.   (But, if anyone wants to see an example of a critique of Gandhi from the Right, see Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Was Gandhi for Real?)

It is the critiques of Gandhi from the Left that I'm more sensitive to.

To me, the two most serious criticisms from the Left are:
1) Gandhi was a member of the bourgeoisie, and only concerned with bourgeoisie interests.  (Chris Harman was of this opinion), and
2) Gandhi was a racist, and didn't believe blacks were equal to Indians.

Louis Fischer doesn't address either of these criticisms directly.  He appears to be completely unaware these are even issues.
However, since Fisher's time, Gandhi's comments on black people have been widely reported.  (See Washington Post Article Here).

And yet in Fischer's book, Gandhi devotes much of his time and energy fighting against racism.  Much of this is in the context of India (Gandhi spent much of his life trying to end discrimination against untouchables) but Fisher records that Gandhi was also concerned about black people in America and South Africa.

So how to make sense of the racist Gandhi with Fischer's clearly anti-racist Gandhi?
My best guess (and it's only a guess) is that Gandhi must have evolved over time.
Fischer clearly records that on other issues (pacifism, independence) Gandhi evolved.  So it's reasonable to think that the same thing might have happened with his racial views.  All of the damning quotes appear to have come from Gandhi's early period in South Africa, and so probably do not represent the older Gandhi.

Fischer records how Gandhi evolved on the question of intercaste marriages.

"From 1921 to 1946 Gandhi had gone full circle: from utter disapproval of intercaste marriages to approval of only intercaste marriages" (p.338)
And Fischer records that Gandhi was very concerned about the persecution of black people.  When Fischer visited Gandhi in 1946, he records that...

Again he talked at length about the persecution of coloured races in South Africa.  He inquired about the treatment of Negroes in the United States.  "A civilization," he said, "is to be judged by its treatment of minorities. " (p.427)
As far as the critique that Gandhi was only concerned with the bourgeoisie, this is also thoroughly rejected in Fischer's portrayal.  Fischer shows Gandhi as almost a proto-socialist (although Gandhi himself would have rejected that label).

Connections With Other Books I've Read
From the 1982 movie, I had known that Gandhi started his political life in South Africa.  But I hadn't realized exactly how much of his life.  Louis Fischer says Gandhi spent 20 years in South Africa!
As it happens, those same years (1893-1914) were the exact same years that The Scramble for Africa was happening, as covered in Thomas Pakenham's book.
Some of the same characters and events pop up in both books (e.g. The Boer War, Joseph Chamberlain).
In his book, Thomas Pakenham wrote a lot about the politics of South Africa, but I don't remember Gandhi's name ever popping up once.
I don't blame Thomas Pakenham for this.  (In covering 30 years, and the politics of 2 continents, he can't possibly mention everything.)
But... it is an interesting reminder of how limited in perspective any one history book is.  In reading Thomas Pakenham, you'd never know that during the exact same time as his narrative, one of the first modern large scale non-violent protest movements was being launched in South Africa.

Churchill's disdain for Gandhi and for the Indian independence movement was something that I previously encountered in The Decline and Fall of the British Empire by Piers Brendon.

The 1857 Mutiny, although it was before Gandhi's time, is referenced several times in this book as an example of what how bad things could have gotten in a worst case scenario.  Among other books I've read, the 1857 Mutiny was described in Flashman in the Great Game by George MacDonald Fraser.  (Although, typically, was covered irreverently by Fraser.)

The Amritsar Massacre (which Fischer covers on pages 184-188) was referenced explicitly by Orwell's characters in Burmese Days, and was apparently very much in Forster's mind in A Passage to India.

Gandhi engaged in a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy, which is described in this biography.
In the course of describing that correspondence, Louis Fischer inserts his own opinion that War and Peace is "probably the world's greatest novel" (p.96)
Gandhi is recorded as reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a South African prison.
During his week with Gandhi, Louis Fischer records Gandhi as expressing an interest in Upton Sinclair.

Comparing the Book and the Movie
I mentioned above that this is apparently the book the movie was based on, and much of the movie's dialogue can be found in this book.

The movie is not entirely faithful to the book, and after reading the book, I've discovered just how much the movie switched around, glossed over, cut out, and even invented.

I don't blame the movie for any of that.  I understand that in order to transition from a biography to a Hollywood movie, certain narrative choices have to be made.

Nonetheless, as media consumers, it's good for us to be aware of what exactly Hollywood is doing to the historical record, so perhaps it's instructive to examine where the movie differs from actually history.

I can't possibly go through and red-line the whole movie, but I'll pick one part of the movie as an example of the kinds of adaptations that are being made.
I'll just examine parts of the South African campaign against registration (Youtube).

The movie is rolling a number of separate issues and campaigns into one.  In reality, the meeting at this hall was only to address the fingerprinting and registration issue.  The law invalidating Hindu and Muslim marriages would not come until later, and so could not have been addressed at this meeting.
A number of  the comments shouted out by the crowd do come verbatim from Fischer's biography, but they were comments made at preliminary committee meetings,and not at the big meeting.  During Gandhi's big speech at the hall, Fischer records no back-and-forth with the crowd.
The British Police Officers were apparently not at the meeting at all.

The following scene in the movie, of Gandhi burning registration cards and being beaten by British policeman (Youtube), is entirely fictitious.  None of this ever happened.

Gandhi was rounded up and jailed with a number of Indians who refused to register, but there was no dramatic scene of Gandhi burning registration cards.
Fischer records an incident on August 16, 1908, in which the Indian community did hold a demonstration and burn a number of registration cards, but  Gandhi was not there, and there was no confrontation with the policemen.

Throughout the entirety of Fischer's biography, there is no scene in which Gandhi is beaten by policemen as depicted in the movie above.  Gandhi was beaten by various mobs while in South Africa (once by the white settlers, and once by other Indians who were angry at him for compromising with the government), but Fischer never records Gandhi being assaulted by British police as in the movie.

Knowing that this scene is entirely fictitious, it makes me now feel smugly superior to all the Youtube commentators who are writing how this scene proves how wonderful Gandhi was.  And yet, a few months ago, I would have been among them.
For what it's worth, the scene is in keeping with Gandhi's philosophy.  This is an example of the non-violent philosophy Gandhi preached.  But unfortunately history has left us with no real-life dramatic confrontation of Gandhi against violent South African policeman, so one had to be invented, I suppose.

Other Notes
* Everyone knows about the connection between Gandhi and the American Civil Rights Movement.  (Martin Luther King and others explicitly acknowledged Gandhi as one of their inspirations).  But I wonder if this biography in particular contributed to that connection.  After all, this book was published way back in 1950, so it's conceivable that it could have been read by people involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  And this book, with its detailing of Gandhi's campaigns and his victories, seems like a  perfect blue-print for anyone interested in non-violent protests.

Video Review
Youtube Video here and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on India

Monday, June 19, 2017

"-er Nouns" for Relative clauses

(TESOL Worksheets--Relative Clauses, Vocabulary, Nouns)

Google: drive, docs, pub

I used these cards for 3 activities.

Activity 1: A standard "grab the card" game.  The cards are cut up and one set is given to each pair of students.  The cards are spread out on the ground, and the students sit opposite each other.  I describe each card using a relative who clause.  (e.g. This is someone who has to make music with their voice.)  The first student in the pair to grab the correct card gets to keep it.  At the end of the game, the person with the most cards is the winner.

Activity 2:  The class is divided into two teams.  Two people from each team come up to the front of the board.  One of the team members is given a card.   They have to describe it to their teammate, who has to write the correct word on the board.  The person describing has to use a relative clause, cannot say the word on the card, and can not say related words.  (e.g. If the word is "singer" they can't say "sing" ).
If their partner can write the correct word on the board, they get a point.
After each word, I do delayed correction on any grammar mistakes that were made in the relative clause.  Then the next pair of students come to the board.

Activity 3:  The students are put into groups of 3.  The "grab the card" game is repeated from activity one, except this time the students describe the card.  One student will describe the card, and the other two students will compete to grab the card first.  Then once all the cards have been grabbed, the roles change, and the students play again.

In my own classes, I used these cards to Supplement English World 5 unit 6.  That unit had both a page on relative clauses, and a page on nouns ending with "-er".  So this activity functioned as both a review of the "-er" noun vocabulary and the relative clause grammar.  And the selection of "-er" nouns reflect what was used in the English World 5 textbook.

However, I believe this activity can also stand on its own.






Sunday, June 18, 2017

English World 4 Unit 11 Vocabulary

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 4)

Google: slidespub

Supplemented with a quizlet Quiz: docs, pub

English World 4 Unit 11

English World 4 Unit 11

English World 4 Unit 11

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More Problems with the Past Perfect

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

This is a follow-up of sorts to the previous post.

Right about the same time I was experiencing problems with the past perfect in my own class (see previous post) a colleague approached me with his own questions about the past perfect.

His questions were based on an exercise from the textbook Life Intermediate lesson 3B Return to the Titanic p.36-37 .  The lesson contained grammar exercises on the past perfect, which included the following sentence:

This ship and several others _____________ (sink) in 1671 when they _____________ (hit) rocks.

The students were supposed to put the verbs in brackets in the correct tense.

My own native speaker intuition was telling me that the past simple would be the most natural in both cases, but that if one of them had to be in the past perfect, then it would be the second verb.

The answer key to these exercises (located in the back of the textbook and in the teacher's book) said that the correct answer was "had sunk" and "hit".

In other words, the sentence was supposed to read:

This ship and several others had sunk in 1671 when they hit rocks.  

I told my colleague that my best guess was that the publishers of the textbook had simply made a mistake.  Other than that, I didn't know how to explain the sentence.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Problems Teaching the Past Perfect

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

I recently had some frustrations teaching the past perfect in my class.

While I was in the midst of it, vague memories started coming back to me from years gone by, and I starting realizing that I had done this all before.

I've taught the past perfect before in Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and, if memory serves, I think I've gone through the same steps each time.

Step 1)
The students don't understand how to use the past perfect, and start panicking.

Step 2)
I don't understand why the students are so confused.  "Look, guys, it's perfectly simple," I'll say.  "You have two verbs in the past that are in the same sentence.  They're both in the past, but one of them happened before the other.  The one that happened first gets put in the past perfect, while the one that happened second gets put in the past simple.  That's it.  That's all there is to it."

Step 3)
We go over some sentences that use the past perfect, and I try to show my students how simple it is.  I use this worksheet on comprehension of the Past Perfect that I made a few years ago, and it seems to do the job.

1.        He had been a newspaper reporter before he became a business man.
(First he was a newspaper reporter and then he became a business man).
2.       I felt a little better after I had taken the medicine.
(First  ________________, and then  _______________________.)

After completing this worksheet, the students usually understand the Past Perfect receptively.

Step 4)
But then the students start using the past perfect in their own production, and I realize that things are actually much more complicated than I originally thought.  The students are following the rules that I taught them, but they're using the past perfect in a lot of contexts where it is not obligatory, and in many cases where it sounds strange.

In a sentence reading: "I went to the supermarket, bought some books, and then I visited my best friend" , my students wanted to change it to "I had gone to the supermarket..."

"She had eaten her breakfast, and she went to school" one student said (when describing her partner's morning).
It sounded wrong to me, but why did it sound wrong?  Thinking on my feet, I explained, "When you join to independent sentences together with 'and' , you don't need the past perfect.  It's only when they are both in the same clause, or when one is in a subordinate clause."
But I just pulled that explanation out of my hat, and I'm not even 100% sure it was right.

But even in subordinate clauses, I got the sense that my students were over-using the past perfect.

A student wrote in her homework: "When the sun rises, I went to school and I felt happy, delight".  During all class-feedback, I tried to elicit from the students the mistakes, and get them to correct the sentence.  I was intending to elicit "When the sun rose, I went to school".  However they wanted to put it into the past perfect.  "When the sun had risen, I went to school."

At best, I thought the present perfect was unnecessary here.  I explained to my students that the past perfect wasn't strictly necessary in cases where the verbs were already in chronological order, and that in this case the use of the past perfect was optional, but not obligatory.

But in my head, I actually liked  better the version with the simple past ("When the sun rose, I went to school") for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Another example from a student's writing:

When we had gone there, we saw a lot of cows, goats, and many kinds of vegetables.

Again, my native speaker intuition tells me that "when we got there" was preferable than the past perfect.

Another example.
A student was writing about an embarrassing moment, and describing how she mistook someone on the street for an acquaintance, but then after she greeted him, he turned to look at her, and it was a complete stranger.  She wrote:
"But when that person had looked at me, I realized that I didn't know him."

And although I didn't have time to write down all the examples (and so have consequently lost them), there were a lot of these kind of sentences being produced in my class the day after I taught the past perfect--sentences using the past perfect that sounded wrong to me, but that followed the rules I had given my students.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Interesting Random Facts--Eartha Kitt Anti-War Controversy

Via Wikipedia
In 1968, during Lyndon B. Johnson's administration, Kitt encountered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon.[13][14] Kitt was invited to the White House luncheon and was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War.[citation needed] She replied: "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot."
During a question and answer session, Kitt stated:
"The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons — and I know what it's like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson — we raise children and send them to war."
Her remarks reportedly caused Mrs. Johnson to burst into tears and led to a derailment in Kitt's career.[15] Publicly ostracized in the United States, she devoted her energies to performances in Europe and Asia. It is said that Kitt's career in the United States was ended following her comments about the Vietnam War, after which she was branded "a sadistic nymphomaniac" by the CIA.[8]

When I was walking versus While I was walking

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A student wrote in her essay "One time,when I was walking in the outside, I met a person."

We were going over this sentence in class.  I had in mind other errors (in the outside), but one student asked about "when".

"Shouldn't it be 'while I was walking' ?" she asked.

My native speaker intuition told me both "when" and "while" were acceptable here, but I couldn't explain why.

So I looked it up in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

Swan says (on p.67-68) that there are some differences between when and while.   For example, while can be used for simultaneous events, and when can not.

However, in some cases they are interchangeable.

As Swan says on page 67:

We can use all three words [as, when, while] to introduce a 'backgound' action or situation, which is/was going on when something else happens/ happened
I wonder, though... Even though we can use both when and while in this sentence, is there any change of nuance?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

They laughed at me very much versus Thank you very much

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A student had written "My friends laughed at me very much"  in her essay.

During the class discussion time, I highlighted this sentence.

My native speaker intuition was telling me that "very much" was wrong, and that the correct form  should be "a lot".

When pressed for an explanation, I gave the explanation that textbooks usually give--"much" and "many" are used in questions and negative statements, whereas "a lot" is used in positive statements.

But then a student raised her hand.  "But teacher," she said.  "What about 'Thank you very much' ".

So I looked this up in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

Michael Swan writes on page 333:

Very much  can be used in affirmative clauses as an adverb, but not usually before a noun.  Compare:
 I very much like your new hairstyle (adverb)
Thank you very much (adverb)

So why then does very much sound wrong in the sentence "My friends laughed at me very much.

TEFLology Podcast: Episode 61: Job Interviews, Eilhard Lubinus, and Conference Review

(TEFLology Podcast)

The new episode of TEFLology is available HERE.

(Well, newish.   I'm a week late writing this up.)

I'll post my thoughts on the various topics below:

Conference Review
* I enjoy it when TEFLology does their various conference reviews.  I feel like it's a way I can keep in the loop of what is topical, despite not making it to any conferences myself.

* The part on colorblindness is interesting.  Especially because at my school, we're encouraged to use color in our PowerPoint presentations to highlight different  language.  (e.g. put all the auxiliaries in one color, and all the main verbs in another color).  I never thought about students with colorblindness.
But what to do about it?  Does this mean we shouldn't use color in our presentations?  It seems like a shame to give that up.
Perhaps the best answer is to use color, but also to be aware that some students might be colorblind, and highlight the information verbally as well as visually.

* Interesting discussion on self-access centers.  (One of my old co-workers from the Cambodian days was really big on self access centers.  I wonder what he would think of this.)

*The TEFLologists reference one of their previous episodes with Hayo Reinders

* Another interesting person to read on this subject is Freddie deBoer, who routinely writes about how virtually learning does not work.
See some of his recent posts on the subject: you learn by being taught and Study of the Week: Of Course Virtual K-12 Schools Don’t Work

Eilhard Lubinus
* This section mentioned The Game by Neil Strauss, a book that I've reviewed before on this blog. (Although to be perfectly honest, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I've read this book.  And it sounds like the TEFLologists are as well.)

Job Interviews
* Some interesting stuff here.
I've certainly had mixed results in my own job interviews.  (I suppose everyone has.)  Although in my own defense, I like to think I completely nailed this video job interview.

* At one point, a TEFLologists mentions interviewing for a major language school in Japan that subsequently went out of business.  I wonder if he's talking about one of my former employers (a certain major language school in Japan that went out of business).