EATE Estonian Association of Teachers of English
The EATE Journal Issue No. 49 August 2016 FROM THE COMMITTEE 1991 Nora Toots
THE CHANGING UNIVERSITY: EFL, ESP, EAP, EMI Robert Wilkinson
ODE TO THE MOON Kristjan Jaak Peterson, translated by Hilary Bird
REVIEW AS A PROFICIENCY EXAMINATION TASK Ene Alas
ENJOYING CRITICAL THOUGHT Aet Raudsep
HANDLE WITH CARE! TEACHING LEARNERS TO WRITE DELICATE EMAILS Genevieve White
LOOKING AT WORDS: THE PREFIX ’RE-’ WEARS A NEW HAT Julia Hirsch
NOTES OF A STUDENT OF ENGLISH IN 1973-1978 Enn Veldi
Experienced Educator A PATH WORTH TAKEN An interview with Kaarin Truus
Reading Recommendations FROM SAGE ON THE STAGE TO GUIDE ON THE SIDE Kristi Martin
KIM THÚY’S RU AS AN ALBUM OF SNAPSHOTS Eva Rein
THE ESSENCE OF PARENTING Kati Bakradze
Come and Share WORD NEWS Ilmar Anvelt
READING SHAKESPEARE Ilmar Anvelt
Ülle Kurm speaking at EATE founding conference in Tartu University Library in 1991
EATE Committee at Raimond Valgre’s monument in Pärnu in 2004: Reet Leidik, Ülli Roostoja, Erika Puusemp, Reet Noorlaid, Ilmar Anvelt, Krista Ummik, Juta Hennoste
EATE Committee members in Pärnu in 2015: Katrin Saks, Erika Puusemp, Juta Hennoste, Eva Ojakivi, Ilmar Anvelt, Leena Punga, Tiina Tuuling,
Estonian Association of Teachers of English www.eate.ee Chair
Editor of OPEN!
Phone 5621 3292
Phone 5805 6199
From the Committee This year, EATE will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Our story began on 23 November 1991 when the founding conference of EATE took place. This was the time when the Republic of Estonia had recently regained its independence and interest in the English language was at its all-time high. During these 25 years, a great number of people have actively contributed to the development of our organisation. Special mention should be made of our Committee members whose unselfish voluntary work has helped to keep the association going. The Executive Committee of EATE as elected on 23 November 1991, was active from 1991– 1995 (quoted from EATE Newsletter No. 1): Ülle Kurm Chairperson Department of Education of Tartu Krista Mits Vice Chair Humanitarian Institute Külli Kõrgesaar Secretary Tartu Treffner Grammar School Pilvi Kapp Treasurer Tartu School No. 5 Nora Toots Responsible for courses Tartu University Beatrice Ulanova Responsible for courses Tartu Language School Eda Tamm Responsible for courses Department of Education of Tartu Region Valmar Kokkota Responsible for the membership of Western Estonia Tallinn Polytechnical University Aino Kreitsman Responsible for the membership of Central Estonia Department of Education of Paide Leelo Kaskmann Responsible for the membership of North-Eastern Estonia Rakvere Secondary School No. 1 Tiiu-Mai Loko Responsible for the foreign relations Tartu School No. 2
1995‒1997 Mare Jõul Nora Toots Eda Tamm Kaarin Truus Pilvi Kapp Külli Kõrgesaar 1997‒2001 Carmen Ruus Eda Tamm Nora Toots Ülle Kurm Ene Nõlvak-Donohoe Ilmar Anvelt Ene Soolepp Erika Puusemp 2001–2007 Juta Hennoste Reet Leidik Ülli Roostoja Reet Noorlaid Ilmar Anvelt Erika Puusemp Krista Ummik
2007–2011 Leena Punga Ilmar Anvelt Annela Laht Kaie Merila Katrin Ojaveer Erika Hunt Erika Puusemp 2012–2013 Leena Punga Ilmar Anvelt Juta Hennoste Danica Kubi Eva Ojakivi Erika Puusemp Katrin Saks 2013–2015 Leena Punga Ilmar Anvelt Juta Hennoste Eva Ojakivi Erika Puusemp Katrin Saks Tiina Tuuling
Our sincere gratitude goes out to all our members, lecturers and other helpful friends for the magnificent years we have had together. Our annual conferences in Tartu and summer seminars in Pärnu have become get-togethers to which we always look forward. We warmly thank all the writers, interviewees and photographers who have contributed to our magazine OPEN! which has become an important part of our association. Today EATE has about 300 members all over Estonia. We are happy that in the best years the number of participants in our Summer Seminars in Pärnu has reached 260. There is always a sizeable number of non-members attending our events. We are open to all English teachers in Estonia and would be very glad if they joined our association. We are thankful to the Embassies of the US and the UK, the British Council, the Ministry of Education and Research. We also thank book sellers from Allecto, Dialoog, Studium, Koolibri and TEA for their great selection of books and for supporting us with lottery prizes. We thank the Pärnu College of the University of Tartu and Miina Härma Gymnasium whose rooms we have been able to use for our events. We send greetings to our fellow associations – the Estonian Association of Foreign Language Teachers, IATEFL Poland, the Lithuanian Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, the Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. We thank everybody we have worked together with for their help and support and hope that EATE is going to have a successful future. Members of the current EATE Committee Leena Punga, Ilmar Anvelt, Kati Bakradze, Juta Hennoste, Erika Puusemp, Katrin Saks, Tiina Tuuling 2
1991 Nora Toots
Honorary Member of EATE
It is not just four numbers in a row on a sheet of paper or a number indicating one year in a very long succession of years. It is a year that has a symbolic meaning for us. It started a new era for our people. The world opened; an enormous flow of information flooded our lives. The English language, which had been in a half-neglected position in our schools for many years, suddenly became a language of utmost importance. Everybody understood that one could not absorb the huge amount of information that had started coming from the Western World; we had to make a careful selection of it. It was difficult to make the right choice without being proficient in the languages used in the West. In such a situation, even the teachers of English (the foreign language used most in the Soviet Union) were at a loss; they did not grasp the amount of information, did not know how to operate with the material that had suddenly come into their hands. Suddenly the English language had become the most important thing. Naturally, we had taught English; we had some kind of textbooks; we had the knowledge of certain teaching methods, but all of a sudden, we felt that something was missing. We felt that we did not know English well enough, our English was old-fashioned – “Dickens’ English”, as an Englishman told me frankly. An overwhelming desire to improve our English motivated our next moves. The British Council and the Peace Corps established their offices in Estonia, and a lot of highly skilled or less skilled native speakers spread fast into our schools with a myriad of textbooks and all kinds of materials on English teaching methods. And now, in this immeasurable hotchpotch, many leading teachers of English and specialists in teaching methods like Laine Hone, Heino Liiv, Valmar Kokkota, Krista Mits, Eda Tamm, Ülle Kurm, Suliko Liiv, Beatrice Ulanova, Carmen Ruus and many, many other teachers of English decided that we ourselves had to organise our teachers and arrange their muddled thoughts. The teachers of English from our closest neighbouring countries like Finland and Sweden sent us a lot of textbooks and theoretical materials. Some of them came over to Estonia or invited us to their schools and conferences dedicated to the English language (e.g. in 1990 N. Toots visited a conference in Helsinki where she was asked to speak about the situation of teaching English in Estonia). Thus, in October 1991, it was decided to summon the most active teachers of English in Estonia to Tartu and establish an organisation that would inform, join, guide and advise teachers, help them exchange experience and provide them with the most recent materials and news concerning the English language and its teaching. In those days, our only means of communication were letters on paper and unreliable telephones. It was a difficult task to inform teachers of English at all schools everywhere in Estonia and ask them to come to Tartu. Our letters often got lost and did not reach the addressees. However, regardless of all hindrances and hardships, the essential event took place. 3
It was something new, and the majority of teachers of Estonia, including those from small village schools, were eager to hear something new and even to glance at some new textbooks. There were really hordes of teachers coming, and it was difficult to find an adequately big room. Tartu University Library was very obliging and let us use its big conference hall. The teachers were very enthusiastic and eager to speak and came out with many ideas. There were heated discussions about the name of the organisation, its tasks and how to inform the teachers of everything planned. Several names were offered, and Laine Hone’s suggestion – the Estonian Association of Teachers of English (EATE) – got the majority of supporters. A great problem was how to spread the necessary information to schools. Eventually, it was decided to elect coordinators, one for each county, who would inform the local teachers of English. To conclude the long meeting, the Executive Committee was elected with Ülle Kurm as its Chair. It is a great pleasure to feel and know that our EATE is going strong, and its events are so vividly attended by many teachers of English. My greatest congratulations for the day and many good wishes for continuation with unflagging energy.
THE CHANGING UNIVERSITY: EFL, ESP, EAP, EMI Robert Wilkinson
Maastricht University, Netherlands
In the early 1990s I recall arriving in Tallinn in mid-January for a conference in Tartu. It was cold but bright. The conference must have been one of the early EATE conferences, organized by Nora Toots, but my memory is not good on the details! The conference would have been dedicated to English philology and literature, I’m sure. And dedicated were the participants. I do recall feeling somewhat out of place among so many English teaching specialists, as I have rarely served time as a pure English teacher, who teaches the language and trains students for exams in English. In my case, English gave me a job, and I had found myself at the beginning of my career in what became to be known as English for Specific Purposes (ESP) – I had come across John Swales’ Writing Scientific English (1971), among others, and applied it to my first professional teaching in the early 1970s in Paris – and most of my career at that point had been concerned with ESP or Languages for Specific Purposes (LSP). Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by philologists, who seemed to know far more about teaching the language than I did. I was concerned with teaching for professional or practical purposes; I was less concerned with the phenomena of the language itself. In Tartu I found myself, a representative from a small commercial language institution, speaking at a centuries-old institution with venerable traditions, with its teaching now in Estonian. What did I have to contribute to the audience’s knowledge? Over time I had become interested in how to bring together professionals of different natures. I had long felt that we have much to learn from each other. It began with NELLE in 1989, of which EATE became an early member. NELLE stood for Networking English Language Learning in Europe1, and many of
NELLE’s last conference was in Bielefeld, Germany, in 1998. The network closed down soon afterwards.
the members were concerned with ESP, especially in methodology. Some of us shifted to English for Academic Purposes during the 1990s, although I remained attached to the LSP international symposia until the early 2000s. By this time, though, my own university in the Netherlands (far younger than Tartu) had become heavily concerned with teaching, not through Dutch, the national language, but through the medium of English. It had begun in the late 1980s and by the second half of the 1990s was a major – and successful – characteristic of the university. It was a process in which I was closely involved from the start, and gradually shifted my interests towards policy and planning. Thus, with respect to English, I had embarked on an ESP boat, with occasional short port stops in English teaching, switched to an EAP vessel, before ending up on a mixed passenger liner with a policy and strategy deck, an integrated language and content deck, and a massive EMI2 deck. In short, one person’s career in language, but let’s take a broader look at what has been going on in university education and language. Not very long ago it would have been taken for granted that if you went to study a discipline at a European university, you would do so through the national language at the state, with the obvious exception of degrees in languages. Of course, this meant that, by and large, so-called regional languages were minoritized or even ignored. A simplified argument could be advanced that this was the natural status quo stemming from the rise of the nation-state and the expansion of education to serve the increasing industrializing economy. Although perhaps there was nothing ‘natural’ about it. The conditions changed as education spread and minoritized-language speakers began to reassert the values of their languages and cultures, in Spain, for example, after the advent of democracy in the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent rise of Basque and Catalan as academic languages. The early 1990s were a time of waves of optimism about the future. But again, the conditions change. From the 1990s many of us working in education – and higher education in particular – became aware of the vast range of abstractions creeping into everyday discourse about education. Let me list in no particular order some that I pick up from a cursory glance at the first pages of a few recent publications on higher education (e.g. Knight, 2008, who includes “turmoil” in her book title; I could also have chosen some of my own articles as they also abound with abstractions!): globalization, harmonization, internationalization, mobility, diversity, employability, ranking, distance learning, differentiation, crossborder, competences, culture, quality, accreditation, profile, relevance, competition, tradeable goods, franchising, mission, and it goes on. If you go through virtually any public relations document from any university today, you will find it brimming with examples of abstractions such as the above – even if the meaning of any of these terms is subject to many interpretations. Maybe there is nothing wrong with this. After all, higher education should teach one how to think abstractly in order to draw generalizable deductions. But this world of abstractions signals a massive change in higher education, which also has a washback influence on the preceding phases of education. The educational world has become different: we now have to pay attention to our peer universities. What are they doing? What do we need to do better? To put it simply, we are in an era of competition (note how every university prides itself on its international ranking – see the University of Tartu’s website, ‘About us’). Competition may be attributed to ebb and flow of globalization, the harmonization of educational systems through the Bologna Process for example, and the various programmes of the European Union such as Erasmus. We can even see the tacit competition appearing in the very language we use, as evidenced by the demand for internationally reliable language tests. Witness too the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2002), which has led to a degree of comparability of language competence, an ABC which gives institutions some grounds for admitting or rejecting candidates for courses. Competition means that institutions benchmark themselves against chosen competitor institutions – especially institutions abroad. It also means that they try to recruit more and more students and staff from other countries. How do they do that? Well, increasingly by offering programmes through the medium of English, taking advantage of student mobility.
EMI = English as Medium of Instruction.
At present it appears from the studies by the Academic Cooperation Association (Wächter & Maiworm, 2015) that the Nordic countries and the Netherlands offer most programmes in English (in percentage terms), though the Baltic states are rapidly increasing their offer. This generates a transient migration of students across Europe. Mobility, of course, is no bad thing as ‘travel broadens the mind’. Anyone who has studied and worked in other countries will appreciate how the time abroad can provide enlightenment on social, cultural and economic differences, and it helps one to see one’s own culture in a more relativist and realistic light. However, the transient migration creates imbalances too. We can assume that students who decide to travel to a different country for their studies are likely to be more motivated, and are more likely to come from the higher ability ranges than the lower. Thus, receiving countries benefit from a probable higher quality of incoming students, and sending countries could lose. The upshot is that institutions in other parts of Europe feel the pressure of this competitive drain and thus start to develop programmes in English too. Are we going to see a large part of European higher education provided only in English? We can also see the abstractions used to gloss the changes in higher education over the past three decades as indicators of discontinuity, to put it in Foucaultian terms. Foucault writes about the continuity of discontinuity. As Revel (2004) describes Foucault’s conception, “The only conceivable constant is that of an extended discontinuity as continuous change, as continuity in movement” (my translation). However, Foucault rarely addressed education directly, though Ball (1990, 2013) convincingly shows the relevance. Yet the considerable changes in recent higher education are evidence of a time of major change, a discontinuity or disruption, one that we can interpret through an earlier French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard, who remains one of my favourites since my study days. Bachelard argued that learning (knowledge) was discontinuous, that we only construct the idea of continuity in hindsight. He pointed out that “accessing scientific knowledge ... entails accepting an abrupt change that must contradict the past” (1934, my translation). Bachelard was concerned principally with the natural sciences and research. However, we can argue that from a constructivist perspective, all scholarly endeavours – at least to some extent – involve a break with the past, and a refutation, partially, of what had been accepted as conventional knowledge previously. This includes, naturally, the processes of teaching. Thus, in this light, we may see the spread of English as the medium of instruction at universities as one means of coping with the dramatic changes to the higher education landscape. To some extent, the adoption of English as an instructional language, or EMI, has made it easier for universities to attract transient students and academic staff from more or less anywhere in the world. It enables a comparison, however superficial, to be made between academic programmes. It allows research to be conducted more broadly across national boundaries, and it helps students promote themselves on the international labour market. So far, the scope of EMI programmes remains relatively small, according to Wächter and Maiworm (2015), but it is an important phenomenon in not just the European, but also the global higher education market. If it is so small (only 6 percent of study programmes are exclusively in English and around 1.3 percent of students are enrolled in such programmes in Europe, according to Wächter and Maiworm, 2015), is there anything to be concerned about? Yes, indeed. A primary consideration is the quality of teaching and the effectiveness of the learning. Early studies into the quality of teaching through English by non-Englishnative-speaking lecturers raised many problems (e.g. Vinke, 1995), such as reduced expressiveness, slower delivery, lack of humour, reduced interaction, reduced ability to paraphrase and give examples, as well as pronunciation challenges. Moreover, learning through English was found to be less effective (e.g. Jochems, 1991). Despite these findings, such studies have not stopped the growth of EMI. Students and academic staff have, however, become more proficient in English, as a consequence of more effective school learning (English being the principal foreign language in secondary schools across most parts of Europe), exchanges through the Erasmus programme, and the prestigious position of English in popular cultures, among other reasons. Yet concerns with the teaching and learning persist. How effective are academic staff in managing multilingual, multicultural groups? How efficient are they in teaching students the language of their discipline in English? To what extent do they understand the nature of the learning process in another language, and how might this affect the learning of disciplinary knowledge? These and similar concerns raise the call for contextualized continuous professional training (Lauridsen & Lillemose, 2015), which 6
would combine linguistic and cultural development with pedagogical and disciplinary skills and practices. Apart from learning and teaching, there are other concerns about the effects on other languages, about the effects on society, and about the risk of elitism. Domain loss (e.g. Philipson, 2003, 2015) has often been raised where people may see their local or national language ‘losing terrain’ to English. Haberland (2005), however, criticizes the metaphor, as communities have often shifted from one language or dialect to another – the use of English may be no different. The expression “parallel language use” has evolved in some Nordic countries to exemplify the equal use of the local language and English, although Hultgren (2014) sees the policy as political, designed to reinforce the position of the national language. EMI may also have wider impacts on society. With the mobility of more students and staff speaking English, the effect ripples out across the cities in which they reside, affecting accommodation providers, shops and bars, as well as city authorities. Even local sports clubs, for example, may find themselves providing information in English as they try to recruit members. The mobility of students may result in a gain for them, as they find themselves more globally employable, but it can be a loss for the home country. Students may travel abroad for study, but as one Baltic respondent remarked in a recent study I conducted, “frequently they do not return” (Wilkinson, in press). It risks creating a new elitism, those who ‘have English’ versus those who do not. This could be a risk for the stability of university education in some countries, with the highly educated more willing to migrate to other environments. Moreover, even within countries there is a risk of the same split, which might have negative effects on democratic representation if the ‘have-nots’ feel seriously disadvantaged. Such concerns were not in my mind back in Tartu and Tallinn in the early 1990s. My talk did not seem to go down well – whatever it was I talked about. There were no questions; indeed, there seemed to be no reaction at all. No one talked. It was, for me, a frank encounter with Estonian culture. This was how Estonians were, Nora told me afterwards. “We think and reflect a lot before reacting,” she said. I had a lot to learn. I knew from working with Geert Hofstede, author of Culture’s Consequences (1980) and Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (1991), that recognizing cultural differences tells you more about your own culture than about the ‘foreign one’. It made me think that English native speakers tend to talk a lot – in order to fill the gaps – and perhaps have a fear of silence. We needed to reflect more. Reflection is what I have done here, reflecting back on my visit to Estonia, to EATE, over twenty years ago, reflecting on aspects of my career in the world of English, reflecting on the growth of English as a language of instruction in universities. By chance, as I was writing this, I came across an article I wrote for the Guardian in 2005. I quoted a doctor who said that, “It doesn’t matter what the country is, [English] is now as important as basic literacy, mathematical and statistical skills.” And the questions this raises are just as important today as a decade ago. On my way back to Tallinn, the snow was falling thick and hard. It was a white-out, but the bus driver knew the way and kept precisely on time. At the airport, you couldn’t see an aircraft for the whiteness. Nonetheless, somehow we were guided to steps and into what looked like a plane. It took off without hesitation in such a dense snowstorm that all my fears of catastrophe bubbled up. What a pilot! Estonians simply reflect and do, I thought. Congratulations, EATE. REFERENCES Bachelard, G. 1934 [1967/2012]. La formation de l’esprit scientifique. [The development of the scientific mind.] Paris: Librarie Vrin / Chicoutimi, Canada: Cécep/Université de Québec. Ball, S.J. (ed.) 1990. Foucault and education: Disciplines and knowledge. London: Routledge. Ball, S.J. 2012. Foucault, power, and education. London: Routledge. Council of Europe. 2001. Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Haberland, H. 2005. Domains and domain loss. In Preisler, B., Fabricius, A., Haberland, H., Kjaerbeck, S., & Risager, K. (eds.), The consequences of mobility (pp. 227-237). Roskilde: Roskilde University. Hofstede, G. 1980. Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Hofstede, G. 1991. Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. Maidenhead, UK: McGraw-Hill. 7
Hultgren, A.K. 2014. Whose parallellingualism? Overt and covert ideologies in Danish university language policies. Multilingua 33(1-2), 61-88. Jochems, W. 1991. Effects of learning and teaching in a foreign language. European Journal of Engineering Education 4(4), 309–316. Knight, J. 2008. Higher education in turmoil. The changing world of internationalization. Rotterdam: Sense. Lauridsen, K. & Lillemose, M.K. (eds.) 2015. Opportunities and challenges in the multilingual and multicultural learning space. Final document of the IntlUni Erasmus Academic Network Project 2012-2015. Aarhus: IntlUni. http://intluni.eu/ Phillipson, R. 2003. English-only Europe? Challenging language policy. London and New York: Routledge. Phillipson, R. 2015. English as a Threat or Opportunity in European Higher Education. In Dimova, S., Hultgren, A.K., & Jensen, C. (eds.), English-Medium Instruction in European Higher Education (pp. 19-42). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Revel, J. 2004. Michel Foucault: discontinuité de la pensée or pensée du discontinue? [Michel Foucault: discontinuity of thought or thought of the discontinuous?] Le Portique 13-14. http://leportique. revues.org/635 Swales, J. 1971. Writing scientific English. London: Nelson. Vinke, A.A. 1995. English as the medium of instruction in Dutch engineering education. [Dissertation] Delft: Delft University of Technology. Wächter, B., & Maiworm, F. 2015. English-taught degree programmes in Europe. The picture in 2014. Bonn: Lemmens. Wilkinson, R. 2005. Where is English taking universities? The Guardian, 18 March. http://www.theguardian. com/education/2005/mar/18/tefl Wilkinson, R. In press, 2016. Trends and issues in English-medium instruction in Europe. In F. Helm, M. Guarda, & K. Ackersley (eds.), Sharing perspectives in English-medium instruction. Frankfurt/ Berne: Peter Lang.
EATE congratulates its most active and energetic member
ÜLLE TÜRK on her recent jubilee.
Kristjan Jaak Peterson ODE TO THE MOON (1818) Translated by Hilary Bird
Why cannot the fount of song pour its dew into the soul of my people amid the cold north wind? Here, in the snows of the north, there is beauty in the smell of myrtle in a shady, craggy valley even though it cannot blossom prettily: when the undiscovered beauty of our mother tongue, meanders, like a gentle rivulet through the meadow under a calm blue sky aflame with gold, or, when, with a great voice and unimaginable power, the sky thunders and the sea cries; why cannot the language of this land riding on winds of song rise to the heavens and achieve immortality? And so I take you, stars of the clear, blue sky, from the earth to a lofty homeland singing with joy; I sing to you, Moon, king of the night, embraced by clouds, with your pale, merry face like an unopened flower, rising under heaven where sparkling stars bow into dark mist before you – Spirit of the peoples, you swim in the mist, if you seek to find God on earth. Source of the Estonian text (Kuu): Eesti luule (1966, p. 35), compiled by Paul Rummo.
About the translator: I was born in the UK in 1948 as Anneliise Meikar but became Hilary Bird soon after. My birth mother was Estonian, my birth father was Lithuanian. I was adopted by and grew up with a Welsh mother and an English father. I am a citizen of the world. After my British parents died in 1983, I searched for my birth parents. In 1993 a genealogist found that my mother was Estonian and my father Lithuanian. Alice Meikar, my mother, had died in 1991. With information from Rahvusarhiiv I found my Estonian family in Käsmu in 1998. I do not know the name of my father. I came to live in Estonia (Tartu) in 2002.
REVIEW AS A PROFICIENCY EXAMINATION TASK Ene Alas
A review is a writing task type of many international proficiency examinations (e.g. FCE, CAE, CPE) and has been listed as one of the possible task types for the writing paper of the national examination in the English language in Estonia, too (Inglise keele riigieksami eristuskiri). Up until now, however, the task type has not become operational in the latter, as its features have not been sufficiently discussed in the Estonian English language teaching context. The current article will attempt to close the gap to some extent by considering a review as a proficiency examination task type, exploring typical review features as well as the challenges review writers face. It will also look at the criteria for review evaluation in the Estonian national examination context.
Results of a study In her Master’s thesis Developing a Writing Task for the National Examination: Review, Roksana Faizova (2015), while investigating the characteristics of review as a task type, studied local English teachers’ familiarity with review characteristics and if instruction affected the quality of student responses to a review task. Most teachers involved in the study (71.4%) maintained they were familiar with the task type, having written reviews themselves either as part of their university programme or for work purposes (e.g. examples for students or actual reviews of projects or theses), whereas slightly less than a third had not written reviews themselves. 54.3% had not been taught to write reviews, while the remaining 45.7% said they had received corresponding training. When asked, if they taught review writing to their students, 60% stated that they did it sometimes, while 25.7% never taught it. When asked to provide more concrete information about their perception of review features, almost all respondents demonstrated general knowledge of its structure, but the answers were mostly fairly unspecific. In fact, 87% of the teachers said they needed training to be able to teach review writing effectively. Being able to write a review was seen by 79% of the respondents as mostly a useful skill, because, as one of the teachers said, ‘writing reviews taught students to express their opinion as well as developed analytical and evaluative skills’. The rest of the respondents considered review writing ‘quite specific and thus not useful’ (cf. Faisova, 44–50). 10
With the above in mind, it is perhaps advisable here to give a rationale for including teaching review writing in the national curriculum, identify it as a task type, and consider some of its constraints for writers. Rationale for teaching In this day and age, readers come into contact with reviews often. They are widely available in print publications, such as newspapers and magazines, as well as on the Internet. We read them often to learn about new gadgets and to help us decide whether we want to read a book, watch a show, stay at a hotel, take a course or go for a meal in a restaurant. Reviews are available for a wide variety of objects and fields – articles, architecture, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances, hotels, festivals, CD albums, courses, films, textbooks, to mention but a few, addressing very different readers. Not only do we read reviews, but we are also often invited to provide a review of an item we have bought or of a service we have used for other prospective buyers and users. It is common knowledge that the reviews one finds on the Internet often leave the reader with more questions than answers, i.e. they are of relatively poor quality. In order to write an effective review, knowledge and practice is needed. The writer needs to develop analytic skills to identify the points to cover, learn how to be critical and constructive, how to present and support an argument clearly and convincingly. Acquiring the skill to write an effective review will clearly benefit the reader, but there are also benefits for the writer, as by learning how to write effective reviews, one will develop one’s own voice. Another reason for teaching review writing is because it is already a widely-used task in the writing section of international proficiency exams, and the Estonian students who can choose an international examination as a school-leaving exam and/or a university entry qualification should be familiarised with the task type. Below are some examples of reviews as they appear in Cambridge examinations. First Certificate in English (FCE) You see this announcement in your college English-language magazine: Have you read a book in which the main character behaved in a strange way? Write us a review of the book, explaining what the main character did and why it was surprising. Tell us whether or not you would recommend this book to other people. The best reviews will be published in in the magazine. Write your review. 140 – 190 words in an appropriate style. http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/first/preparation/ Cambridge Academic English (CAE) You have seen the following announcement on the website, Great lives. Reviews wanted Send us a review of a book or a film that focuses on somebody who has made an important contribution to society. Did you learn anything new about the person’s life from the book or film? Did the book or film help you understand why this person made their important contribution? Write a review. 220–260 words in an appropriate style. http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/advanced/preparation/ Cambridge Proficiency English (CPE) You are a member of a Film Club. Each month members are asked to write a review of a film they have seen recently for publication in the Club Newsletter. The secretary has asked you to submit a review for the next month’s newsletter. Write your review. 300–350 words in an appropriate style http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/proficiency/preparation/ All the above samples require writing a book or a film review, although the topics should perhaps not be limited to those only. It is interesting to note that setting a review task does not seem to presuppose that all students read the same book or watch the same film as a precursor to completing the task, which sometimes has been seen as an argument against setting this type of tasks. The tasks are similar in that all of them have clearly defined addressees, guidelines as regards the content and a specified word limit. The lower level (FCE) scope (140–190 words) is similar to that of the national examination writing tasks in Estonia where the students are required to write a response with approximately 120 words in Task One and 200 words in Task Two. 11
Another reason for including review writing in the curriculum and consequently as a task in the national examination is that a critical review is ‘a special form of academic writing’ (Hartley, Academic 115) and as such should especially be taught to those students who aspire for the academia. An academic critical review, also called a critique, differs somewhat from a non-academic one. A general review is aimed at the public and is written with the assumption that the reader is not familiar with the object that is being reviewed. A reviewer, therefore, writes for ‘the average man’, and the primary aim of the review is to inform the audience about a new book, for instance, to decide whether or not it is worth buying (Zinsser 196). A critique, on the other hand, provides a more sophisticated analysis of an academic text, aiming to place it ‘within the context of a discipline’ (ibid). Faisova (2015: 14) found that out of twenty randomly chosen university web-sites, fifteen mentioned review writing as an academic requirement and had easily accessible guidelines to writing reviews, which is proof of the necessity of familiarity with the genre for the prospective students. Review features and structure Writing handbooks start review instruction by defining it as a genre. Evans and Edwards (2003: 42), for example, define the review as a piece of writing, written in a formal or semi-formal style, usually for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc. about a book, film, play, CD, trip, etc. with the purpose of expressing one’s opinion. The writer needs to be able to either describe (e.g. the characters in a play), narrate (e.g. the events during a tour), explain (e.g. why a trip is worth taking) or compare (e.g. two proposals) something, and often combine the aforementioned, which in sum means that the writer needs analytic skills. The review is usually, but not always, written using present tenses, with fairly emphatic language where adverb+adjective combinations (e.g. relatively easy, perfectly awful, etc.) are common (ibid.). A typical review usually has the following parts: introduction, a summary, analysis/ critique, and a conclusion with a recommendation. The introduction starts the review and usually includes the hook (cf. Folse et al for the discussion of hooks), followed by the topic reviewed (e.g. the author and title of the book, the name and location of a hotel, etc.), the aim (why the review is written) and summary of the main finding or key argument (a positive / negative / mixed evaluation of the topic reviewed). The latter forms the thesis statement of the review which the writer will then proceed to support in the body paragraphs (cf. Oshima and Hogue for a detailed discussion of paragraph features). The summary paragraph should describe the topic or item at hand and render the key points along with examples. In the case of a film review, for example, give a brief story-line without giving away the end. The summary should not be longer than a third of the critical review. Having described the item or the topic, the analysis, i.e. the critique follows. This should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. If the critique is more positive than negative, present the negative points first and the positive last. If the critique is more negative than positive, present the positive points first and the negative last, always supporting your points with evidence (i.e. examples). An important feature of review writing should be displayed here – being critical, not just descriptive. The writer needs to ‘consider the quality of the evidence; identify key positive and negative aspects to comment on, assess their relevance and usefulness and identify how best they can be woven into the argument. A much higher level of skill is needed for critical writing than for descriptive writing, and this is reflected in the higher marks it is given.’(2.le.ac.uc). The conclusion is typically a very short paragraph which restates the thesis or the overall opinion or makes the final judgment. It is here that the writer should present recommendations (e.g. to read or not to read a book, to take or not to take a particular course, etc.). Care should be taken not to include any new evidence here. For samples of complete reviews see, for example, Evans and Edwards (2003: 44). Those teachers of English in the Estonian study by Faisova (2015) who taught review writing in gymnasium mentioned a number of different review topics they asked their students to engage in: a CD album, a hotel*, a restaurant*, a concert* , a festival*, a museum, a website, a journal article, a course and a guided tour, books and films. (* denotes topics frequently mentioned in the responses), which points to a fairly open-minded approach to the task type, quite unlike the more traditional view where the review seems to be a task that could only associated with the analysis of a book or a film. But Faisova’s research also showed that review writing was perceived by the teachers to reflect a number of challenges, with the problems falling into two groups of almost equal proportions: general and specific writing problems. Among the general problems were listed those that can be encountered while completing any type of 12
writing tasks: generating ideas, choosing the focus; deciding on the number of paragraphs; developing a clear thesis statement; writing clear topic sentences; supporting topic sentences appropriately; writing a proper conclusion, providing unity and coherence throughout the text, employing appropriate vocabulary and using good grammar. Specific problems identified were mostly related to the review structure, writing lengthy descriptions without analysis and evaluation, being overly general without specific examples, not providing background information about the object reviewed, using information indiscriminately from the Internet and not being able to adequately support their opinion (cf. 51–57). Those students who received specific review-writing instruction, however, demonstrated noticeable improvement in their review writing in terms of overall text length, paragraph division, linking of paragraphs, being both descriptive and analytical and giving specific examples ( ibid. 59–77). Marking scales proposed for review evaluation vary from including just a few criteria to very detailed assessment systems, depending on the context. If used in the Estonian national examination framework, the marking scale could probably follow the format adopted for marking of essays and reports, considering the criteria of task completion, organisation, vocabulary and grammar. In terms of marking scale development, the criteria of vocabulary and grammar need little change, whereas task completion and organisation need thorough analysis, proceeding from the review features. To conclude, the review is a common text type that young people often encounter in their everyday life and need for academic success. As a task type, the review has clearly identifiable features, which need to be purposefully taught for the students to manage properly. Overall, students’ success of review writing depends not only on their command of review features but is to a large extent based on their general (academic) writing ability, i.e. control of vocabulary and grammar, sense of style and register and being able to be clear and methodical about their writing. SOURCES USED AND REFERENCES Book Reviews. The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/book-reviews/ Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE). Preparation. http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/advanced/ preparation/ Cambridge English: First (FCE). Preparation. http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/first/preparation/ Cambridge English: Proficiency information for candidates. Preparation. http://www.cambridgeenglish. org/exams/proficiency/preparation/ Evans, Virginia, Lynda Edwards. 2003. Upstream Advanced. Student’s Book. Express Publishing. Faisova, Roksana. 2015. Developing a Writing Task for the National Examination: a Review. Unpublished MA thesis. Tallinn University. Folse, Keith, April Muchmore-Vokoun, Elena Vestri Solomon. 2004. Great Essays. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York. Hooper, Brad. 2010. Writing Reviews for Readers’ Advisory. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Inglise keele riigieksami eristuskiri. 2015. http://www.innove.ee/UserFiles/erituskirjad_2015/RE%20 inglise%20keel%20eristuskiri%202015.pdf Moyer, Jessica E. and Kaite Mediatore Stover. 2010. Readers’ Advisory Handbook. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions. Oshima, Alice and Ann Hogue. 1999. Writing Academic English. Longman. 3rd Edition Preparing for your assignment. University of Essex Online. http://online.essex.ac.uk/students/preparingfor-your-assignment Structure of a Critical Review. UNSW Australia. https://student.unsw.edu.au/structure-critical-review What is critical writing. University of Leicester. http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/writingresources/critical-writing Writing a journal article review. Australian National University. https://academicskills.anu.edu.au/node/492 Zinsser, William K. 2001. “Writing About the Arts: Critics and Columnists.” On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, 25th Anniversary Edition. New York: Harper, 194–207.
ENJOYING THEORETICAL THOUGHT Aet Raudsep
Rocca al Mare School, Tallinn
The US Department of State has a history of offering a variety of educational programs for teachers all over the world. Among those is the American English E-Teacher Scholarship Program that ‘offers foreign English teaching professionals the opportunity to take university-level professional development courses through various university partners in the United States’. All the E-teacher courses last for a period of 10 weeks, during which the participants are expected to read different materials, discuss the readings and their experience with other members of the group using a specially built e-environment, create and analyse different tasks and submit a final task that shows how the principles covered in the course have been put into practice. In autumn 2014, I decided to attend one of the courses offered to brush up my skills and get new ideas for teaching young learners. This decision led to an average of extra four hours of work from January to March 2015, including analyzing my teaching style and habits, finding out what was going on in the field of foreign language teaching all over the world (there were participants from Africa to South America, from such small islands as Rodrigues to well-known countries including Brazil and India) and learning to contribute to and manage an international learning group over a variety of different time-zones. The biggest asset of the course for me was the wealth of theoretical materials that the participants were assigned to read, comment on and integrate in their teaching if relevant to the context of their educational background and school system. I hope that something from the following overview is intriguing or useful to my colleagues as well. Scoring Rubrics Engaging students in the study process is one of the critical aspects of schoolwork. There are numerous possibilities for doing that, starting with the choice of materials and methods and ending with incorporating the most recent technological gadgets and applications. One of the strategies discussed at the course I attended was teacher-student cooperation on designing scoring rubrics. Rubrics can be used to assess tasks where there is no one definite answer and indicate a student’s performance on two or more elements. The rubrics that Estonian teachers of English are most familiar with are the ones used to assess the speaking and writing content of Year 9 and Year 12 Examinations in English. David Litz in his article ‘Student-directed Assessment in ESL/EFL: Designing Scoring Rubrics with Students’ (The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 11, November 2007) suggests that the negotiable contracting process that takes place while the scoring rubric is being drawn up fosters an attitude change in the learners. The learners get an insight of what and how will be assessed, thus getting a chance to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and focus on the areas that need to be improved. In addition, learners are included in the decisions that influence the outcome as they are participants of the assessment process, and this is a valuable tool for student empowerment. Creating your own scoring rubrics is something that can be done with both lower and higher lever learners, but the amount of support necessary from the teacher and the complexity of descriptive language produced for the rubric depends heavily on how proficient the learners are. The steps that need to be taken according to Litz are as follows: 1. Students examine and discuss possible samples of work that exemplify each level for the task at hand. 2. Students brainstorm observable attributes and task outcomes (skills, characteristics, and behaviors that will be expected). 3a. Lower level students examine characteristics and criteria that describe each of the selected attributes or task outcomes – what the possible wording for each of the criteria could be. 14
3b. Higher level students brainstorm, describe and develop thorough descriptive criteria for all of the observable attributes and task outcomes. 4. The rubric is used for assessing students’ work. If need be, the rubric can be revised to include more qualitative elements, the descriptors can be refined or clarified in cooperation with students. Catering for learners’ needs Different learning styles are familiar to anyone involved in analyzing the learning processes. Students are often asked to describe which activities they use to learn new materials and what kind of learning style(s) apply to them. Curtain and Dahlberg (2010) summarize the works of Howard Gardner and Thomas Armstrong, indicating eight different forms of intelligence that can be discernible in a language classroom. Obviously, it is impossible to cater for the needs of all the eight intelligences; therefore, the authors suggest teachers try to find a balance of trying to touch on the needs of each of them over the progression of a unit or week. Being aware of such a variety of learners’ needs helps teachers plan their classes and diversify their teaching. It is also a useful tool when analyzing the work done in the form of a simple checklist – to ask ‘Have I included an activity to support the needs of X intelligence in my recent lessons’-type of questions. The following table has been taken from Curtain and Dahlberg (2010:11) to illustrate the multiple intelligences, their strengths, and activities that best support the development of their language skills. Application of multiple intelligences in the language classroom Intelligence
Reading, writing, telling stories, playing word games, etc.
Almost everything we do in class
Experimenting, questioning, figuring out logical puzzles, calculating, etc.
Surveys, making charts and graphs
Designing, drawing, visualising, doodling, etc.
Illustrating cartoons / Gouin series1, creating a picture of an object by writing the word for the object over and over
Dancing, running, jumping, building, touching, gesturing, etc.
Total Physical Response (TPR) activities, adding motion to songs and chants
Singing, whistling, humming, tapping feet and hands, listening, etc.
Using songs, rhythmic chants, creating melodies for favorite rhymes
Leading, organizing, relating, manipulating, mediating, partying, etc.
Small group and partner work
Setting goals, meditating, dreaming, being quiet, planning
Journaling, portfolio building
Understanding, categorizing, explaining things in the world of nature
Photography, field trips, classifying
Jean Piaget is a familiar name to those who have encountered pedagogical psychology. Kieran Egan, a Canadian educationalist and psychologist, sees educational development as a process of accumulating and exercising layers of capacity for engaging with the world. As individuals develop, they add new layers
A method that helps students to move from listening to speaking, developed by Francois Gouin (ed.).
of sophistication without shedding the qualities characteristic of earlier layers. Similarly to Piaget’s four stages, Egan sees the development in four layers; however, they do not overlap in age groups. Curtain and Dahlberg (2010: 13) see Egan’s layers as applicable to kindergarten to middle school language program. The following is a comparison of Piaget and Egan as outlined by Curtain and Dahlberg. PIAGET The stage of sensory-motor intelligence (0 to 2 years). Behavior is primarily motor. The child does not yet internally represent events and “think” conceptually, though “cognitive” development is seen as schemata are constructed.
The stage of preoperational thought (2 to 7 years). Development of language and other forms of representation and rapid conceptual development. Reasoning during this stage is pre-logical or semilogical, and children tend to be very egocentric. Children often focus on a single feature of a situation at a time – for example, they may be able to sort by size or by color but not by both characteristics at once.
EGAN Mythic Layer: ages 4 through 5 to 9 to 10 years • Emotional categories have primary importance: children want to know how to feel about whatever they are learning. • Fundamental moral and emotional categories are used to make sense of experience: good versus bad, love versus hate, happy versus sad. • Simple binary (polar) opposites provide the easiest access to a subject; they can then be elaborated on by filling in between the poles. Understanding of hot and cold precedes the concept of warm. • The child often perceives the world as feeling and thinking like the child; the child’s meaning for the world is derived from within. • Children in this layer interpret the world in terms of absolute categories. • The story form is the most powerful vehicle for instruction; in fact, young children require it. It incorporates the categories and processes used by the child in understanding and interpreting the world: a beginning, a middle, and an end; binary oppositions; absolute meaning; emotional and moral categories. The primary task for children in the mythic layer is to begin to understand the world in terms of their own vivid mental categories. At this level, those categories are emotional and moral, rather than rational and logical. This means that “access to the world must be provided in terms of emotion and morality, or knowledge will be simply meaningless.” The Romantic Layer: ages 8 to 9 through 14 to 15 years • Children develop initial concepts of “otherness,” of an outside world distinct and separate from the world within. • The separate world is perceived as potentially threatening and alien. • Children confront the task of developing a sense of their distinct identity. • Students at this layer learn best when new information embodies qualities that transcend the challenges posed by daily living in the real world, such as courage, nobility, genius, energy, or creativity. • The romantic learner seeks out the limits of the real world, looking for the binary opposites within which reality exists. Thus, the learner is fascinated with extremes. • Romantic learners are fascinated with realistic detail, the more different from their own experience the better. • Preferred stories and story form incorporate realistic detail and heroes and heroines with whom the learner can identify, who embody the qualities necessary to succeed in a threatening world. • Students experience overwhelming sentimentality, and defend themselves against it through extreme outward conformity. • Learning can be successfully organized by starting with something far from the students’ experience but connected to them by some transcendent quality with which they can associate. The key to the romantic layer is in the search for the transcendent within reality, the need to develop a sense of romance, of wonder and awe. The romantic layer learner is in search of answers to the general question, “What are the limits and dimensions of the real and the possible?”
The stage of concrete operations (7 to 11 years). The child develops the ability to apply logical thought to concrete problems. Handson, concrete experiences help children to understand new concepts and ideas. Using language to exchange information becomes much more important than in earlier stages, as children become more social and less egocentric.
The Philosophic Layer: ages 14 to 15 through 19 to 20 years • Students begin to understand the world as a unit, of which they are a part. • Focus in this layer is on the general laws by which the world works. • Meaning of individual pieces of information is derived primarily from their place within the general scheme. • Students like to develop hierarchies, as a means of gaining control over the threat of diversity. • Students at this layer become (over)confident that they know the meaning of everything. • The general schemes developed at the philosophic layer give control and order to the encyclopedic accumulation of fact and detail of the romantic layer. • The teacher guides students in the process of acquiring knowledge to feed the development of their general schemes, and then elaborating their schemes to best organize their particular knowledge. The key task at the philosophic layer is developing the capacity to generate “general schemes,” the ability to generalize and organize information.
The stage of formal operations (11 to 15 years or older). The child’s cognitive structures reach their highest level of development. The child becomes able to apply logical reasoning to all classes of problems, including abstract problems either not coming from the child’s direct experience or having no concrete referents.
The Ironic Layer: Ages 19 to 20 through adulthood • The learner recognizes that the general schemes of the philosophic layer are not in themselves true, but are necessary tools for imposing meaning on particulars. If the scheme does not serve adequately, it is discarded and another is used instead. At the ironic layer, particular knowledge is dominant rather than the general scheme. • The ironic layer is made up of contributions from all previous layers, under control of this key ironic perception. The ironic learner is the mature adult learner.
Old and new names Among the many classic authors familiar to language teachers, the course reading list also revisited Stephen Krashen and Benjamin Bloom. Dr. Olenka Bilash from the University of Alberta, Canada, has created a short overview of how Krashen’s six main language acquisition hypotheses can be applied for teaching a second / foreign language. A reminder of the verbs that can be used to describe the different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy was also very useful. The verbs should get particular attention when designing instructional tasks to make sure that the tasks are clearly observable, measurable, and require the desired level of expertise. The last text I would like to mention is about teacher autonomy and professional development. Prof. B. Kumaravadivelu’s Postmethod Condition Macrostrategies recognize teachers’ potential of not only knowing how to teach but also knowing how to act autonomously within academic and administrative limits. Kumaravadivelu outlines 10 macrostrategies based on which teachers can design varied and situation-specific approaches and classroom techniques to achieve the desired study results. Postmethod condition helps teachers become strategic teachers and researchers, promote teacher autonomy, develop a reflective approach towards their work, initiate changes in classrooms and analyze the outcomes of such processes. Kumaravadivelu states very clearly that any pedagogic framework must emerge from classroom experience and experimentation rather than being imposed on the school and teachers from outside but must be adequately supported by current and up-to-date theoretical, empirical and pedagogical research. Therefore, his postmethod condition macrostrategies aim to activate and develop teachers’ sense of plausibility and create in them a sense of interested involvement. These are a few highlights of the reading list I enjoyed going through during my 10-week E-teacher course. Not only served the course as a refresher for my classroom skills and a source for new teaching ideas, but it also provided a glimpse of current issues in the world of education with the focus of non17
European authors for a change. There will be new opportunities available in autumn 2016 with new E-Teacher Scholarship Programs. REFERENCES Bilash, Olenka. Krashen’s 6 Hypotheses. http://www.educ.ualberta.ca/staff/olenka.bilash/best%20of%20 bilash/krashen.html. Accessed 14 April 2016. Curtain, Helena I. and Dahlberg, Carol Ann A. 2010. Languages and Children: Making the Match: New Languages for Young Learners, Grades K-8. Boston: Pearson. E-Teacher Scholarship Programs. http://exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/e-teacher-scholarshipprogram. Accessed 14 April 2016. Kumaravadivelu, B. The Postmethod Condition: (E)merging Strategies for Second/Foreign Language Teaching. http://bkumaravadivelu.com/articles%20in%20pdfs/1994%20Kumaravadivelu%20 Postmethod%20Condition.pdf. Accessed 14 April 2016. Litz, David. Student-directed Assessment in ESL/EFL: Designing Scoring Rubrics with Students. http:// iteslj.org/Lessons/Litz-StudentDirectedAssessment.html. Accessed 14 April 2016. The ABCDs of Writing Instructional Objectives [based on Bloom’s taxonomy]. http://www.personal.psu. edu/bxb11/Objectives/ActionVerbsforObjectives.pdf Accessed 14 April 2016.
HANDLE WITH CARE! TEACHING LEARNERS TO WRITE DELICATE EMAILS Genevieve White
Shetland Islands, UK
Introduction While it is hard to go wrong with writing a postcard or thank you letter, a delicate email can make or break a relationship. This article will identify the features of such emails and recommend ways in which we can support our learners in succeeding with this important written genre. What is a delicate email? A wide range of everyday situations call for delicate emails. An initial glance at my own email sent box reveals the following: emails to clients in which I chase up unpaid invoices, emails to students with unsatisfactory attendance and an email to an editor in which I attempt to negotiate a higher fee for a proposed article. These emails share a common feature: in each email (however cross or unhappy I may feel at the time of writing) remaining on good terms with the recipient of the email is crucial. In delicate emails, therefore, we need to strike a careful balance between being polite and being firm. Challenges of the genre Over the years I have received emails which would raise the hackles of the most relaxed recipient. In a straw poll survey I carried out on the subject of delicate emails, many friends and colleagues said they had also received emails which were needlessly abrupt. Here’s an example of a real life workplace email my boss received (names have, of course, been changed).
From: Dick Johnson <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 11:26 AM Subject: Table legs To: Gina Montgomery <email@example.com> Gina, In response to Genny’s note apologising for the 2 tables in the classroom which she broke I have tried and cannot myself fix them. Replacements are £200 plus VAT each. If you have teachers that require instruction on how to put up and down the table legs – I would be happy to run such a session. It would save us some costs!!! Thanks. Dick The writer of this email is clearly trying to address an important issue (the need for teachers to exercise more care when assembling tables), but the way in which he goes about it guarantees failure. The tone of this email is sarcastic and confrontational. Certain lexicogrammatical features contribute to this. For example, a direct question is used where an indirect question would have been more appropriate and an active sentence with a human subject sounds unnecessarily accusatory (‘she broke the table’ rather than ‘the table was broken’). A lesson on delicate emails with an ESOL class at B2 level I introduced this lesson by asking learners to define the word ‘delicate’ and getting them to think of nounadjective collocations, for example, ‘delicate item of clothing’ and ‘delicate constitution’. I then wrote the phrase ‘delicate email’ on the board and asked learners to guess its meaning. I told my learners about a friend who had borrowed money from me some time ago. I explained that I now needed this money back and was in the process of composing an email to my friend asking to be repaid. I admitted to finding this type of email difficult to write and asked my class to help me. Learners then worked with a partner and were given a short time limit to write an email from myself to my friend. (I had given learners all the necessary details such as name, amount of money etc. in my introductory tale.) I monitored as they wrote and found that many of them were composing rather abrupt sounding emails in which they sounded more like debt collectors than friends. I then showed my learners an example of a well-written delicate email: Hello Miguel, How are things with you? Joe tells me you’re going to his stag weekend in Prague – sounds like it’ll be a blast! I’m keen to come to Prague too – if finances allow. Talking of which, I was wondering if you could pay me back that hundred quid you owe me. I’d forgotten all about it – you know me, memory of a goldfish! I’ve attached my bank details so if you could just pop it into my account that’d be great. Do you think you’d be able to get it to me my next week so I can book my tickets? See you on the flight to Prague hopefully! All the best, Rafal After asking questions to check understanding, I listed the features of a good delicate email on the board and asked learners to find and underline examples of these in the model text. The features included: an indirect question, a friendly and conversational opening comment, a self-deprecating remark, a request for action, a polite and friendly closing remark and a euphemism. 19
After completing this task, learners rewrote their original emails, including as many of the above features as possible. I photocopied the best email and distributed it among the class. Following up The above lesson is merely an introduction to this challenging and important genre. In subsequent classes my learners and I went on to look at the effect achieved by using the passive voice with an inhuman subject rather than the active voice with a human subject. We contrasted sentences such as “You haven’t paid me yet” with “The outstanding amount hasn’t yet been transferred to my account” and discussed the effect achieved in each case. I also designed a role-play activity in which pairs of learners were assigned a ‘delicate’ scenario. Learners had to write polite but firm emails to each other, and in doing so, work their way towards a satisfactory outcome. At the end of class these email chains were photocopied, distributed and discussed. Conclusion Writing politely but firmly is not easy. However, as our personal and professional lives often call for this skill, it is well worth taking the time to practise the art of writing delicate emails with our learners. Genevieve White has been teaching English for almost twenty years. She has worked in Hungary, Romania and China and currently teaches in the Shetland Islands. Genevieve has written a range of print and digital English teaching materials and blogs about teaching and writing at: https://hotel3001. wordpress.com/
LOOKING AT WORDS: THE PREFIX ‘RE-‘ WEARS A NEW HAT Julia Hirsch
Professor Emerita Brooklyn College (City University of New York)
Some seventy years after George Orwell wrote Politics and the English Language, his remarks on language remain current. Orwell argues that syntactical structure, register and metaphors influence meaning. Metaphors are of particular importance because they are a source of color and emotion. But like flowers—vivid when fresh—they fade. What Orwell calls “dying metaphors” all invoke some phenomenon that has faded in poignancy because its point of reference has grown obscure with the passage of time. “Ringing the changes,” for instance, invokes a geographically limited, and pious, society, in which parishioners were informed of communal news by the particular ring of their neighborhood church bells. “Swan song” refers to the myth that, at his death, the swan, not a melodious bird, emits a lovely melody. But swans, these days, are an uncommon sight — although I remember seeing some lovely ones some fifteen years ago in Saaremaa. “Grist to the mill” alludes to the process of turning grain to flour. Today, in most parts of the English-speaking world, flour comes in bags bought at the store. The mill is no more an important institution than the blacksmith or the farrier. Even expressions that were vivid in the earlier 20th century, such as “a slow boat to China,” “now you’re cooking with gas,” or “give me a ring,” (for making a phone call) are fading. Since metaphors come out of perceptions and experience, we have in turn created some which are vivid today, but will in time also wane in currency. Derived from computer and other modern technologies, we’ll say of something novel and complex that “it’s high-tech.” We no longer think of a “virus” as only the cause of disease among animate creatures, but as big trouble on our computers. We’ll “nuke” our 20
meal in the microwave instead of merely warming it up. Another current usage is the new role of the humble little prefix ‘re-‘. Defined by the Shorter Oxford Dictionary ( Vol. II, Clarendon Press, 1973) as a “prefix of Latin origin with the general sense of ‘back’ or ‘again’ [it occurs]. . . in a large number of words adapted from Latin, or of later Latin origin, and on the model of these freely employed in English”, it supplies us with many familiar words. To mention just a few from among a long list, that pairing of consonant and vowel gives us return, refresh, review, remit, revisit, remain1, and reclaim. Detaching the prefix from what follows we can get a more direct sense of what each of these mean. Something that was once fresh may have wilted: to refresh it gives it new vigor. To revisit a place means one was there once before: a return brings with it some awakening, some new sensation. We don’t usually engage in this kind of deconstruction. It would slow us down, stop us in our tracks. But ‘re-’ is being put to new use in ways that represent the introduction into our discourse of an environmental consciousness. We regift when we give away a present we’ve received: that orange sweater we got from our cousin for our birthday is unflattering, so we wrap the object in nice paper and a fresh ribbon and pass it along. We hope, of course, that we’re not accidently giving the cousin the very same garment she gave to us, but such are the perils of the process. Best to keep a record of what we “regifted.” Regifting is related to repurposing. We repurpose when we find a new way to use an old thing. Oldfashioned bathtubs—the kinds with lion feet—are often turned into planters, as are chamber pots. The latter repurposing can be quite comical when an implement that was once used discretely, hidden in a special bedside cabinet, or hidden under the bed, appears, full of flowers in the middle of a dining table or, filled with a snake plant on the floor, next to a favorite chair. Repurposing often shows a great deal of imagination. The door of a broken refrigerator can, for instance, be removed (there goes another ‘re-‘word!) and the inside turned into a book case or display case for photos or other “collectibles.” Cracked vases can be electrified and turned into lamps. One of my daughters—very clever about how to repurpose—found the wrought-iron base of an old Singer sewing machine on a Brooklyn street a few years ago, and with the addition of a piece of wood, we turned it into a charming little table. Refurbished is an adjective used to describe a product that has been repaired by the manufacturer and sold again. A refurbished computer sounds a lot better than a “used” one. But that’s what it really is: a machine that broke down and was repaired. Deprived of its prefix, “furbish” means “to remove the rust from, to brighten by rubbing.” A refurbished item is often one that has been recycled. It’s found a new life, a way to remain in use. (Though, using a different prefix, the same process is involved in the sale of preowned cars. They’re used cars with a more attractive adjective.). Reboot is what we have to do to our computers or modems when they stop working. To “boot” means to kick—hardly the action one should take too literally in order to get one’s machines to function. It’s the only word I know having to do with technology that includes ‘re-‘. That indicates, perhaps, the extent to which a new vocabulary had to be invented to take us in and through the electronic age. Recycled items—especially clothes—are often enjoyed by those who like retro styles, the styles of more than forty years ago, currently very much in favor. Recently I saw an ad both on the New York City subway and on the walls of bus shelters advertising re-bagg.com, an on-line company which buys and sells designer handbags. A look at the site is quite illuminating as the items for sale are very expensive. This shows that recycling has acquired a high-end appeal. The popularity of resale shops, also known as thrift shops, is evidence, too, that recycled apparel has a wide appeal and may require a deep pocket. That little prefix ‘re-‘ rides on a wave of nostalgia that is perceptible in many other parts of our contemporary culture. In a number of places, we’re trying to attach some “old” way of doing things to the needs of a different—more diverse, more mechanized, more rapidly-paced—world. Shops sell prepared “takeaway” meals, sparing the hungry customer the effort of starting from scratch: a “take-away” meal has 1
Remain is an interesting case. The prefix is attached to a version of “maintain,” derived from “manu” and “tenere”, meaning “in hand.” (See Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Vol. 1, 1261, Clarendon Press, 1973.)
not been frozen, so it still has the scent and color of something just taken off the stove or out of the oven. In the past few years, New York has been promoting bicycle-riding, an older, less mechanized form of transportation, as a way to cut down on car usage, which requires fossil fuel. The activity carries some risk as we don’t as yet have well-designed bicycle lanes and established traffic patterns to protect both riders, pedestrians and motor vehicles, but cyclists are now a regular sight on city streets—and sidewalks. Knitting and other yarn crafts are making a bit of a come-back, by means of on-line sites, blogs and “chat rooms” which can be attended by men as well as women. Some actual yarn shops even have a table at which knitters can gather and chat about their lives, exchange information about craft, or just sit and enjoy knitting or crocheting in the company of others. Other new words have come into our usage by means of social media. We take selfies, write text and e-mail (as compared to snail mail). Living in New York City gives me plenty of opportunity to observe all the behaviors that we have now assumed as part of technological change. But that little prefix ‘re-‘ has a special charm. It allows us to reconsider and perhaps even evaluate the impact of change on our daily lives.
NOTES OF A STUDENT OF ENGLISH IN 1973–1978 Enn Veldi
Department of English Studies University of Tartu
The following notes describe my studies of English at the University of Tartu in the years 1973–1978. In 1973 a student applicant had to take four entrance exams, which took place in August: an oral exam in English, a composition in Estonian, an oral exam in the Estonian language, and an oral exam in history. The entrance exam in English consisted of three questions: reading and translation of an unknown text with the help of a dictionary, a grammar point with an exercise, and a conversation topic. My examiners were Aino Jõgi (1922–2013), who turned out to be our course supervisor, and Gustav Liiv (1923–2008). I remember that there was a friendly atmosphere during the exam, and that they corrected my pronunciation of the word ‘Danish’, which I had mispronounced for some reason. The folklore of entrance exams of those days includes a joke about a student candidate who translated (with the help of a dictionary, it seems) ‘My Fair Lady’ into Estonian as minu laadaleedi. The first meeting of the new students in September 1973 began with an orientation session by Oleg Mutt (1920–1986), head of the Department of English and the greatest authority in Estonia on almost every aspect of English. I still have my notes of this talk, which included an overview of our future studies together with a glossary of English-language academic terminology that was used at the time. We learned that English was taught for the first time in Tartu in 1803 by Beresford. The curriculum of English studies had four components: 1) socio-political subjects (history of the CPSU ‘Communist Party of the Soviet Union’), Marxist philosophy, and political economy), 2) general subjects (logic, psychology, and general linguistics), 3) the pedagogical cycle (pedagogical science, methods of teaching English, and teaching practice), 4) English philology or English studies (the main subject, one third of the subjects). The number of hours devoted to practical English was remarkable: the first year (16 hours per week in the autumn term /16 hours per week in 22
The author of the present article in 1974.
the spring term), the second year (16/16), the third year (14/8), the fourth year (8/6), and the fifth year (6/6). The English-language academic terminology introduced at that meeting was as follows: ‘prelim’ or ‘preliminary exam’ (arvestus), ‘course paper’ and ‘term paper’ (kursusetöö), ‘graduation paper/thesis’ and ‘diploma paper’ (diplomitöö), ‘student’s grant’ or ‘scholarship’ (stipendium, informally stipp), ‘booklet of academic achievement’ (õpinguraamat, matrikkel), ‘identification card’ (üliõpilaspilet), ‘assistant professor‘ (dotsent), ‘senior teacher’ (vanemõpetaja), ‘laboratory assistant ‘ (laborant), ‘full-time student’ (statsionaarne üliõpilane), ‘extra-mural student’ or ‘correspondence student’ (kaugõppeüliõpilane). All in all, a student of English was required to take about thirty-five exams and preliminary exams during the five-year course of study. As was previously mentioned, the number of hours devoted to practical English was considerable. The following aspects of English were taught separately: 1) analytical reading, 2) phonetics, 3) grammar, 4) conversation, 5) home reading, and 6) newspaper reading. The author of the present article and Ruve Šank at Alatskivi, The course was divided into two groups autumn 1974. for the teaching of practical English. I was in group B, which was in the first two years taught by Helgi Susi (1921–2011). Our course was fortunate because the manuscript of a future textbook (Liiv and Toots 1978) was already used for analytical reading. The first lesson of this textbook is ‘Button arrives at Dimity Hall’, an extract from A Course in Murder by Lee Chaytor. Not long ago I read the full version of the book and realized that in 1973 it had been a recently published book – a good introduction to American student life. Each student had a copy book for written assignments, and there was a longer test after each unit followed by a correction of mistakes. When I looked at these green copy books recently with nostalgia, I realized that the used method ensured that we firmly knew for the rest of our lives that the adjective ‘characteristic’ takes the preposition ‘of’. Our phonetics teacher was Leili Kostabi who was a younger-generation lecturer then. The 1970s was an era of reel-to-reel tape recorders. In addition to classroom practice, you had to listen to tapes and practise the speech sounds and dialogues at the phonetics lab, which was located on the first floor of the Languages Block next to the Old University Café. I believe such phonetic drills can be quite useful because they ensure good pronunciation. Heino Liiv taught both practical and theoretical grammar. His strength was the contrastive study of English and Estonian tenses, which was his main research field. He also explored the possibilities of teaching English grammar by means of programmed learning. Home reading was taught by several lecturers, for example, Amanda Kriit (1922–1997), Helgi Susi, and Aino Jõgi. There was a required book for each semester; the books were traditional in the sense that the same books were used for many years, and for some of them even
A group of coursemates in June 1978. From the left: Ants Aaver, Maie Yli-Kleemola (Mihkels), Rein Lillipuu, Jane Tammeorg (Indre, Jõgi), and Enn Veldi. 23
collections of exercises were available. Some titles that I remember include The Path of Thunder by Peter Abraham, The Cross and the Arrow by Albert Maltz, The Citadel by Archibald Cronin, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, and A Man of Property by John Galsworthy. These books had been republished in English in the Soviet Union, whereby sufficient numbers of copies were available. The authors’ views must have been officially approved in the Soviet Union. Newspaper reading was limited to the analysis of the Morning Star and Moscow News. Term papers were required in the second, third, and fourth year. My first term paper, written in 1975, deals with literature and is entitled ‘The Importance of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath’. It has a Russian-language summary, which must have been a requirement during the Soviet period. During my student days I was more interested in general linguistics. Therefore, the following two term papers dealt with linguistic complementarity. Also, my graduation thesis focused on this problem. One has to point out that because of the Iron Curtain between the East and the West direct international contacts with capitalist countries were rare. We were sometimes told that unfortunately there was no English-speaking socialist country where we could practise our English. Therefore, the lecturers encouraged us to read more and to use English for everyday communication. Sometimes it resulted in funny episodes, especially when we did not know the English-language equivalents for some local realia, for example, morss ‘juice drink’. In those days you could often hear such requests as could you pass me the ‘morss’ please. Most students listened to the BBC, which was generally regarded as a source of objective information. A poster of an annual conference of the Students’ Research Society.
The students of German were in a somewhat more favourable situation because their best students could apply for study in the German Democratic Republic. Generally, in order to keep up with recent research, one had to use extensively the inter-library loan service. This system enabled library users to order copies of articles and books from other libraries, especially from Moscow, which usually arrived in the microfilm format. Some lecturers, for example, Oleg Mutt and Paul Ariste, had valuable personal libraries, which could be consulted upon request. I remember that in the spring semester of the first year Heino Liiv approached me with a proposal to make a presentation at a meeting of the Students’ Research Society. For this purpose, I had to read a book by Jean Piaget on child language development, which he kindly offered for consultation. The annual conference of the Students’ Research Society was the main academic event for student researchers. Student researchers from other universities, especially from the Baltic countries and St Petersburg (Leningrad), were invited to participate. In turn, our students were invited to attend similar conferences outside Estonia. I attended conferences of the Students’ Research Society in Vilnius, Kiev, and Tbilisi. My first publication (Veldi 1978) is, in fact, based on a paper presented at a student conference. There were also regular contacts with students of the University of Latvia in Riga. There were two kinds of teaching practice – a month-long summer job at a pioneer camp after the third year and a 24
Advertisement of a freshman initiation party by Piret Tergem
longer period of teaching practice in the final year. Before graduation one had to take a state exam in scientific communism and to defend a graduation thesis, which took about a year to prepare. The Department of English at the University of Tartu had several strengths in the 1970s. First, a number of lecturers had already completed or were about to complete their PhD theses (Oleg Mutt, Aino Jõgi, Nora Toots, Heino Liiv, Urve Hanko (Lehtsalu), Asta Luigas (1923–2009), Ann Pikver (1941–2002), Gunnar Kiviväli (1926–1977). This factor enabled research-based teaching of theoretical subjects. Second, during the Soviet period the academic staff of the department prepared an impressive list of English-language teaching materials. These study aids partly compensated for the shortage of suitable study materials. Oleg Mutt was the most prolific author of study aids; he often also encouraged his colleagues to publish more by saying “publish or perish”. A selected list of major publications in the field of linguistics can be found in the references section. The list is far from exhaustive and does not include various collections of exercises. REFERENCES Hone, Laine. 1965. Schoolroom Expressions. Tartu State University, 106 p. Hone, Laine. 1971. Some Typical Mistakes Occurring in Our Students’ Written Papers II. Tartu University Press, 159 p. Hone, Laine. 1973. Some Typical Mistakes Occurring in Our Students’ Written Papers I. Second revised edition. Tartu State University, 109 p. Hone, Laine. 1973. Some Typical Mistakes Occurring in Our Students’ Written Papers III. Tartu University Press, 89 p. Kiviväli, Gunnar. 1971. Theoretical English Grammar. An Introduction to the Discipline.Tartu State University, 151 p. Kiviväli, Gunnar. 1976. British Life and Institutions. Tartu State University, 80 p. Lehtsalu, Urve and Gustav Liiv. 1972. Ilukirjanduse tõlkimises inglise keelest eesti keelde. Tartu Riiklik Ülikool, 167 p. Liiv, Heino and Nora Toots. 1978. Advanced English for the Estonian Learner I. Tallinn: Valgus, 364 p. Liiv, Heino and Nora Toots. 1980. Advanced English for the Estonian Learner II. Tallinn: Valgus, 332 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1972. A Short Introduction to Germanic Philology for the Student of English. Tartu State University, 78 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1972. An Introduction to Old English. Second edition. Tartu University Press, 90 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1974. A Student’s Guide to Middle English, Tartu State University, 121 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1975. Ten Facets of English. Ten Selected Lectures on the English Language. Tartu State University, 136 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1976. American Life and Institutions. Tartu State University, 72 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1978. Inglise keele foneetika. Tallinn: Valgus. 175 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1979. An Outline of Early Modern English. Tartu State University, 76 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1981. Social and Regional Varieties of Present-Day English. Second edition. Tartu State University, 94 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1982. The Development of English Language Studies in the 16th–20th Centuries. Tartu State University, 82 p. Mutt, Oleg. 1986. Selections from Old, Middle and Early Modern English. Third edition. Tartu State University, 109 p. Pulk, Helgi. 1981. Phrasal Verbs in Present-Day English. Tartu State University, 98 p. Toots, Nora and Hilja Koop. 1980. Lexical Companion to “Advanced English for the Estonian Learner”. Tartu State University, 194 p. Veldi, Enn. 1978. On the English Loanwords in Japanese. ÜTÜ töid germaani filoloogia alalt I. Tartu Riiklik Ülikool, 73–77.
Experienced Educator A PATH WORTH TAKEN AN INTERVIEW WITH KAARIN TRUUS
How did you start your career? I was born in Hiiumaa, and after finishing secondary school, I wanted to go to Tartu University as my dream was to become a doctor. I think it was some sort of a childhood dream, as I had major surgery at the age of eight, and I was very impressed by my doctor who allowed me to see everything happening in the operating theatre. But growing up I started to think whether I would be a good doctor, and my parents were not very keen on my continuing education in Tartu, as it was the only place where to study medicine but unfortunately too far away from the island. I took a year off and worked in order to earn some money and, most importantly, to have some time to think and figure out what I would like to achieve in life and whether my dreams would be realistic. Looking back, I believe I was right, as it helped me in making the most important decision in my life. I had always been quite good at languages, so I finally decided on a career connected with the English language and the most obvious choice was Tallinn Pedagogical Institute. However, I did not have teaching as a career in mind back then. Nevertheless, this was the start of my future career. What did working for the British Council give you? During my first teaching practice, I discovered that I liked teaching and the classroom environment, and that you could see the result of your work at the end of the lesson. Being a Gemini, I have always enjoyed being amongst people, and school provided me just that. I was a teacher for almost 27 years, and looking back, I would say that these were very good years. However, the 90s brought along new opportunities for self-development, and in 1992 I got a chance to study together with other teachers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania in the UK and become a Professional Teacher Trainer. It was a British Council supported event, and when the Tallinn office opened its doors in Tallinn 1994, I was already actively involved in teacher training. However, it was only in 1997 when I joined the Council as the Projects Officer and stayed there for 11 years. I have to say that these were the most educating years of my life, the various projects that were administered, the training events and travels to places I would never have seen without that, the interesting people I met during these years. It was never boring as the job description changed practically every year, and from nonâ€“ELT, projects I moved on to ELT and scholarships and afterwards to the exams management. That was also the time when the borders had opened for our young people, and many of them wanted to spread their wings and go and conquer the world, thus international qualifications and exams became the first step in their career path. How do you like your work as coordinator of international exams? Working as the Centre Exams Manager, first as the employee of the British Council and afterwards carrying on the same job at the Centre for International Examinations at Tallinn University, has been challenging but rewarding. 26
When we started with the Council, only IELTS and a few Cambridge exams were administered. Now the scope and volume has increased, and international qualifications range from English language exams for all levels to professional qualifications for accountants, from candidates applying for higher education opportunities to distance learning and skills for life. Over the years, I have gone through all the stages of exams management from practical hands on test day invigilation to overall business management and planning. The various skills obtained at the British Council when administering very different projects have become very handy, as the job requires much more than just running examinations. Moreover, it means constant lookout for new clients as well as business partners. It is not the easiest of jobs, but very enjoyable and it means being amongst people all the time. What should people pay greatest attention to when preparing for those exams? There are sometimes candidates who come in and ask what needs to be done to have a good result in the examination and how much preparation is needed. You cannot come up with a straightforward answer. Whatever exam you need to take in life, be prepared: know what the exam is about, know the structure, task types and take your time to be ready. It is not only certain knowledge that is needed but also specific skills. Be aware of best test taking strategies and what works for you. Try to get as much support material as possible. Nowadays, there is so much of it available; various resource materials, the internet with practice materials, pretesting and trials. Once you have prepared and know the tasks ahead, make the most of it, and you will be successful. If you know what you are supposed to do, then carry it out. It is the same with other things in life. How do you think studying and the role of the teacher have changed in recent times? When I started my teaching career, teaching was carried out following the current textbook and there were not many additional materials around. I remember using Mozaika, a Polish ELT magazine at the time, as this was one of the few sources where some interesting texts could be found. Times have changed, there are so many options nowadays and the problem is totally different, there is a threat that you may become disoriented. The teachersâ€™ role is not that much of a classroom teacher any more but more of an advisor. True, you need to focus on the teaching programme, prepare your students for the end of term and end of year exams, but you can direct them to other sources that may result in getting a better result. You have to be open to new ideas and must not get stuck in your professional career. Yes, it is a learned path and so comfortable to walk on, but be aware of the threats in being stuck in one place. Your professionalism needs constant development and there are so many opportunities around. What is the significance of Hiiumaa in your life? That is the place where I feel happy and at peace regardless the weather, the time or the day or the year or whatever work I need to do. When I cross the sea and reach the island, my mind is momentarily free from worries, and I treasure every minute spent there. I love the sea and the seagulls and the junipers and get my energy back from so many little things that become my world when over there. True, it is not a place where you can spend days idling around, as there is always a lot of work maintaining the farm, but you see the beauty of it all, and you feel privileged that you have your sacred little place on the earth. It is funny that years back when I left the island and went to â€˜conquerâ€™ the big world, I felt differently. I never forgot it, as this was the place where my Mum and Dad lived, a place I visited as often as possible, but the feeling now is so different. Maybe it is this coming back to your roots and appreciating the peace of your soul more than the riches of the world. What do you like to read? I grew up in a family where the traditional birthday presents were books, and everybody liked reading. Books were bought and ordered as series and, over the years, my father built up quite a good library. I treasure the books given to me over the years bearing a little text inside as it takes me back to the 27
time and the occasion that these were given to me. I had read most of the compulsory literature before reaching the secondary school age. By now have reread some and have come to change my mind about them. For example, I did not like The Happy Prince at all when I first read it, but it has stayed one of my many favourites for a long time. My passion for reading has never left me, although currently I prefer books that are more for entertainment and the choice varies. I like novels but also enjoy detective stories. I also have quite a good collection of poetry books reminding me of my teenage years. I enjoy reading books by Robert Galbraith and quite recently discovered Jacqueline Winspear, an author of detective stories taking you back to the post World War I years. I am also quite happy to pick up a book by contemporary women writers like Elisabeth Noble, Marion Keyes and Jojo Moyes. I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense. (Harold Kushner)
Reading Recommendations FROM SAGE ON THE STAGE TO GUIDE ON THE SIDE Kristi Martin
Allecto AS, Tallinn
Traditional approach to teaching states that class work is done in class and homework at home, but since 2007 a new teaching method termed “Flipped Classroom” popularised by two chemistry teachers, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams at Woodland Park High School, Colorado, has become more widespread and used. The flipped classroom method involves a reversal of traditional teaching. Students are first exposed to new material outside class, usually via video lectures, and then class time is used for assimilating the gained knowledge through exercises, discussion or group work. The value of the method is in repurposing class time into a workshop where students can test their skills and acquire a deeper understanding of the material through individual inquiry and collaborative effort. The flipped classroom model puts more responsibility for learning on the shoulders of the student and brings about a distinctive shift in priorities – from merely covering material to working toward mastering it.
The new edition of Macmillan Education’s popular Gateway course, which has always encouraged students to actively participate in their own learning as well as preparing them for further study, includes a new exciting feature of Flipped classroom videos to bring grammar points from the Student’s Book to life. David Spencer, the author of Gateway 2nd Edition, delivers engaging grammar presentations that 28
accompany one ‘Grammar in context’ section for each unit. Students can watch the presentation at home, as many times as they want, and there are interactive tasks in Gateway 2nd Edition Online Workbook or printable worksheets on the Resource Centre to help the students check that they have understood, and for teachers to check that students have actually watched the video as well as pinpoint areas that need further practice. The videos are a flexible learning tool and can be used for revision or by students who miss a class as well as be used in mixed ability classes as the videos cater for different learning styles, and students have more control over the pace of their learning. They can be even watched at school with the whole class in lesson-time for variety. The presentations in Gateway 2nd Edition take a visual approach, introducing concepts and making new structures accessible through examples, timelines and diagrams. By presenting a grammar topic outside class, there is more time for in-class practice, and teachers have more class time to help students develop their communication skills and give feedback and assistance. The Flipped Classroom videos enable students to take an active role in their learning and give them confidence in their capacity for autonomous study. The Flipped Learning model is by no means meant to replace the traditional approach of teaching grammar in class. It is one way to provide a bridge to a learner-centred class environment and give an effective, hands-on approach to improving student achievement and involving them in their own education. For more information on how to use Gateway 2nd Edition Flipped Classroom videos watch the online presentation by David Spencer, the author of the course, at: www.macmillanenglish.com/events/flipping-the-classroom/ For free online samples and digital materials of Gateway 2nd Edition B1 Unit 3 please go to: www. macmillangateway2.com To watch a montage of Gateway 2nd Edition Flipped Classroom videos go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOeBhXLUvgQ
KIM THÚY’S RU AS AN ALBUM OF SNAPSHOTS Eva Rein
Department of English, University of Tartu
Kim Thúy’s autobiographical novel Ru is an immigrant story of the Vietnamese boat people forced to escape their homeland, going through a treacherous journey and accommodating to Canada as their host country. While Vietnam as a setting and Vietnamese characters can be found in earlier Canadian fiction (e.g. in David Bergen’s The Time in Between, which deals with the protagonist’s involvement in the Vietnam War and its aftermath), Ru is the first Vietnamese Canadian novel rendering the experience of Vietnamese immigrants. It is an important addition to Asian Canadian literature and to Canadian multicultural writing as a whole. The novel offers insights into both the 29
Vietnamese and Canadian societies and cultures at different historical times. Moreover, it addresses the challenges and blessings of inhabiting two cultures simultaneously. However, Ru is not a traditional immigrant narrative when it comes to its storytelling technique. The story of a family turned refugees as a result of a communist takeover in their home country and later establishing themselves in a new country is told in short fragments that vary in length from a short paragraph to a few pages. Underlying the narrative is a linear story, which the readers can piece together, of the protagonist growing up first in her native Vietnam and later in Canada, and then moving through several stages in her career and personal life, including relationships and motherhood. Yet the narrative in the novel develops not so much by one event leading to another, but by the keywords and related images that take on meaning in one vignette, and serving as a link to and a starting point for the next one. Some images, such as the ones related to water, are recurrent and form tentative and yet powerful threads of connections and continuities between the vignettes. While each vignette is a fragment, it is at the same time a little story on its own, and even though the fragments shift in space and time, the ease with which the movement from one to another happens, resembles flowing water. Actually, the novel’s title means “a stream” in French and “a lullaby” in Vietnamese. The appearance of the vignettes is also very similar to the way human memory works, and the vignettes themselves can be seen as memory pictures. This is especially evident when underlying a vignette are recollections evoked by a photograph. The choice of the narrative strategy merits special mentioning. In order to address harrowing events alongside with the gratifying ones, especially the ones that defy telling, a way has to be found to represent and express them. There are other examples from Canadian writing, for example, Nancy Huston’s Fault Lines and Madeleine Thien’s Dogs at the Perimeter, discussed in the earlier issues of Open!, where the imagery and the structuring principle of the novels play an important part in bridging the gap between the refusal and urge to tell. A much earlier novel in Canadian literature whose approach to the use of photography can be likened to that of Kim Thúy’s Ru is Timothy Findley’s The Wars. In her discussion of the latter novel, Lorraine York points out “the deep affinity between the photograph and memory, the past, and even the act of writing itself. The photograph becomes not only a major image /.../ but the main structuring principle of the novel” (1988: 77–78). It is also true of Kim Thúy’s Ru that the relationship between the photographs and memory is a key issue, and photography informs both the style and structure of the novel. In the following, a vignette featuring a photograph will be examined to show its functioning in the text. The vignettes that precede the one to be focused on deal with the difficulties of the boat people accommodating to Canada. The language barrier and the cultural differences are not the only issues that the Vietnamese encounter in Granby where they stay during the first year after arrival in Canada. Sometimes these difficulties are surprisingly exacerbated by a clash between the benevolence of Canadians and the gratitude of Vietnamese developing almost into anecdotic proportions. Such instances happen when the Canadians wish to help in every possible way and the Vietnamese find it exhausting to receive the hospitality, which the Canadians, unawares, sometimes offer on their own terms, but which the Vietnamese find hard to receive and even harder to decline. One such example emerges in the associative sequence of memories and thoughts triggered by a photograph that opens a vignette: I have a photo of my father being embraced by our sponsors, a family of volunteers to whom we’d been assigned. They spent their Sundays taking us to flea markets. They negotiated fiercely on our behalf so we could buy mattresses, dishes, beds, sofas – in short, the basics – with our three-hundred-dollar government allowance meant to furnish our first home in Quebec. One of the vendors threw in a red cowl-necked sweater for my father. He wore it proudly every day of our first spring in Quebec. Today, his broad smile in the photo from that time manages to make us forget that it was a woman’s sweater, nipped in at the waist. Sometimes it’s best not to know everything. (Thúy 2012: 24)
In the terms of Roland Barthes’ theorising of a photograph (1980: 26), the red women’s sweater could be seen as a punctum – the second element of a photograph that breaks or punctuates the studium – the first element, which is the setting in the picture. What characterises the punctum is the moment of revelation that the viewer experiences. It is also important that for different people different things 30
in the picture can constitute a punctum. Exactly as fascinating as it is to scrutinise and muse on the photographs with Roland Barthes in his Camera Lucida, it is to discover the hidden implications of the described photographs through the eyes and thoughts of the narrator of Kim Thúy’s Ru, especially when she continues in the next paragraph: Of course, there were times when we’d have liked to know more. To know, for instance that in our old mattresses there were fleas. But those details don’t matter because they don’t show in the pictures. In any case, we thought we were immunized against stings, that no flea could pierce our skin bronzed by the Malaysian sun. In fact, the cold winds and hot baths had purified us, making the bites unbearable and the itches bloody. We threw out the mattresses without telling our sponsors. We didn’t want them to be disappointed, because they’d given us their hearts, their time. We appreciated their generosity, but not sufficiently: we did not yet know the cost of time, its fair market value, its tremendous scarcity. (Ibid.)
In this vignette, the photograph can be seen as to trigger a sequence of associations that link the memories of a new beginning in Canada and of the time in a Malaysian refugee camp. The upsetting aspects of these experiences are linked by the hardships including physical and emotional suffering whose impact the use of an ironic understatement in the storytelling simultaneously hides and discloses. A way to conceptualise the way in which this photograph works in the narrative can be found in Anette Kuhn’s observation of a function of a photograph “to evoke memories which might have little or nothing to do with what is actually in the picture. The photograph is a prop, a prompt, a pre-text, it sets the scene for recollection” (2006: 395–396). This function of the photograph is masterfully employed in Kim Thúy’s art of storytelling. Moreover, all the vignettes have a photographic quality to them in their capacity to capture the significant moments as well as evoke the visible and hidden aspects of the experience of the characters, all rendered in a highly poetic language. REFERENCES Barthes, Roland. 1980. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Transl. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Kuhn, Anette. 2006. “Remembrance: The Child I Never Was.” In Liz Wells (ed.). The Photography Reader. London and New York: Routledge. Thúy, Kim. 2012 . Ru. Transl. Sheila Fischman. New York: Bloomsbury. York, Lorraine. 1998. The Other Side of Dailiness: Photography in the Works of Alice Munro, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Laurence. Toronto: ECW Press.
How well do you know Edinburgh? (photos p. 41) 1. Monument to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). The monument was designed by George Meikle Kemp, the statue of Scott by John Steell. 2. The interior of the Scottish Parliament, built 1999–2004. 3. Greyfriars Bobby. This Skye Terrier spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner who was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. 4. The Forth Bridge – a railway bridge over the Firth of Forth, built 1882–1890. ‘Firth’ is the Scots word for estuary. 5. Arthur’s Seat, the highest peak in Holyrood Park. 6. The Edinburgh Castle. The oldest building in the Castle, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates back to the 12th century. 7. The Scottish National Gallery, designed by William Henry Playfair, built 1850–1859.
“THE ESSENCE OF PARENTING“ Kati Bakradze
Dr. Haim G. Ginott, Between Parent and Child. Revised and updated by Dr Alice Ginott and Dr H. Wallace Goddard. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. /Leo Buscaglia/
Everyone of has a variety of roles in their lives: the role of being a child, a teacher, a parent, a sister, a daughter, an aunt etc. Being a teacher is my job and my passion, being a parent is always my first choice, my privilege. Dr. Haim G. Ginott was a clinical psychologist, child therapist, and parent educator who immensely influenced the way parents and teachers relate to children with the power of the WORD. The original book Between Parent and Child was released as early as in 1965. The main beliefs of not only caring but understanding, that not only intelligence is enough but knowledge as well, lied in his pioneering techniques he introduced in his first book and later in the following ones. The overlapping idea all of Ginott’s books is the need for caring communication. He was convinced that conversations sounding like monologues should be replaced and improved with reflecting and mirroring the feelings of a child. The doctor claimed that “feelings hidden in the process by which people exchange information or express their thoughts are particularly of the human experience” (p 54). True, nowadays reflecting of emotions has been discussed thoroughly, but already 60 years ago, Dr. Guinott stressed the need to learn special skills in the use of words, especially not being a parent, but a human who is a parent. Feelings are particularly of the human experience, including sharing feelings and acknowledging them. Continuously the author of this book claims that “instead of reacting to the feelings, which are always ambivalent and legitimate, parents should simply respond to them while diminishing the intensity of the sharp edges of the emotions experienced and aroused” (p. 36). Another essential idea he presented was about the need for a change of view. He stated that it was not important to agree or disagree with a statement but try to insight details that convey true understanding beyond expectations. In all, praising or using the words in terms of any communication is a two-way process: what we say to children and what they say in turn to ourselves. Say a kind word to your children, students and family members; an honest compliment to your colleagues and you have turned someone’s life around. What a power of choice! P.S. You may also want to enjoy the fascinating ideas and guidelines by Dr. Haim Ginott expressed in his other books: Teacher and Child, Between Parent and Teenager, and Group Psychotherapy with Children: The Theory and Practice of Play Therapy.
Come and Share WORD NEWS Ilmar Anvelt
Department of English, University of Tartu
This time, in addition to the previous sources, I would like to introduce Michael Quinion’s website World Wide Words (http://www.worldwidewords. org). After Cambridge University, where he studied physical sciences, Michael Quinion worked for the BBC. These days, he concentrates on World Wide Words and on providing citations and advice for the Oxford English Dictionary. He also wrote a third of the entries for the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words. His most recent book,Why is Q Always Followed by U?, a collection questions and answers from the Questions and Answers section of World Wide Words, came out in 2009 from Penguin Books. You can also subscribe to Michael Quinion’s newsletter, which is sent out by e-mail, usually on the first Saturday of the month. The newsletter is free. Traditionally, a dictionary begins with the letter A. In recent times, however, lexicographers have discovered that there should also be a place in the wordlist for expressions starting with numbers or consisting entirely of numbers. Perhaps, the best-known ones are 9/11 denoting the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 9, 2001, and 24/7 or 24/7/365 which means doing something all the time (24 hours a day and 7 days a week, 365 days a year). These are placed at the very beginning of the dictionary. Below, you can find a few examples from Michael Quinion’s index and Macmillan Dictionary. 360-degree feedback As the term implies, it brings together formal appraisals from everybody that the person being assessed comes into contact with — line managers, subordinates, colleagues, peers, and even outsiders such as clients. Another name for it is multi-source feedback. (Quinion) 3D fatigue Some filmgoers complain that viewing 3D (three-dimensional) movies cause them eye problems, headaches and nausea. The issue is common to other media that create the illusion of depth using stereoscopic images – flight simulators, head-mounted virtual-reality displays, and other 3D technologies. The formal term is asthenopia. (Quinion) 7/7 cf 9/11 7 July 2005 – the date of terrorist bomb attacks on the public transport system in central London ‘From emptied subway systems to deserted parliaments and shopping malls, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe have been edgy and anxious since 7/7 …’ (Macmillan)
20/20 vision the ability to see normally without wearing glasses (Macmillan) The website of Macmillan Dictionary is also worth exploring in detail. For example, a section in it is devoted to buzzwords – words that become very important, that you often hear in the news, that people suddenly think are very important. The following examples have been taken from Macmillan Dictionary’s Buzzword Archive. I mostly tried to select well-known words that are used in unusual meanings or unexpected compounds have been formed from simple words, or where conversion is used, e.g. words that we generally know as nouns are used as verbs, or adjectives as nouns, etc. Mx a title used before a man or woman’s name as a gender-neutral alternative to Mr, Ms, etc. ‘For those who don’t feel Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms apply to them, the gender-neutral Mx could soon be more widely recognised – RBS will now officially use the title.’ (RBS is the Royal Bank of Scotland) faceplant verb To fall over forwards so that your face hits the ground or another surface ‘Mom faceplants in sand during daughter’s proposal video … Eva Clark faceplanted in the middle of her daughter’s Breanne’s proposal video …’ sea lion verb in an online conversation, repeatedly ask a person questions or make comments which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them ‘I keep quiet for a number of reasons, but it’s primarily out of fear. Fear of uttering an opinion only to be sea lioned into circular debates that feel engineered more to exhaust than to enlighten.’ unicorn a start-up (= newly established company) whose value has reached more than one billion US dollars ‘Manish Madhvani, managing partner at GP Bullhound, said: “The UK has raced ahead as the undisputed home of unicorns in Europe, with London producing the vast majority of Britain’s billion-dollar tech companies …”’ bit rot noun uncountable when electronic information is lost because the software or devices needed to read it are no longer available ‘Concern is popping up in the digital media world over the future of online documents like pictures, videos and more. … Bit rot is concerning because programs needed to view documents will eventually become outdated and replaced with newer technology.’ iceberg home or iceberg house a house which has a very large extension in the basement so that the majority of the living space is underground ‘Iceberg homes make for irate neighbours in London … When Canadian businessman David Graham decided to expand his house in a high-end London neighbourhood, he didn’t want to build up or out. He planned to dig down. Way down.’ hearable noun, usually plural an electronic device which is worn in the ear. ‘For now, hearables look set to follow the fitness trend seen in the wider wearables market … It’s a really small computer that sits in your ear. It will entertain you and advise you what to do better, and exercise right.’
empty chair verb to embarrass a person who refuses to take part in a debate by leaving an empty seat or space which represents them ‘David Cameron could be empty chaired in TV debates as Labour accuse him of “running scared …”’ telephone number salary or phone number salary a very large salary, 6 figures or more, typically paid to people such as bankers As with most local charities she did not receive a "telephone number” salary and she has not been given a massive golden handshake. As mentioned in the previous issue of OPEN!, the Macmillan Dictionary website also includes Open Dictionary, a crowd-sourced dictionary to which everyone can add new words. Some recent entries are given below. black elephant a rare but significant risk that everyone knows about, but no one wants to discuss “Currently,” said Sweidan, “there are a herd of environmental black elephants gathering out there” — global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, mass extinction and massive fresh water pollution. dead from the neck up very foolish or stupid Sometimes my friend is dead from the neck up. wordmark a particular design for a written name which is is used to identify a specific company, organisation or product Until it merged with Heinz in July 2015, Kraft Foods Group returned to its roots with the classic blue wordmark enclosed by a red racetrack. freebirth the process of giving birth to a baby at home and without the help of a doctor, midwife or other medical professional In one of the home birth groups I’m a member of, women began to discuss having an “unassisted birth” also known as a “freebirth.” Another well-known dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is also most often used in its electronic form nowadays. Click on Featured Entry / word of the day. On the right side, you will find the Explore our topic dictionary link. You can choose from a number of topics, e.g. Advertising and Marketing, Animals, Biology, Clothes, Computers, etc. When you click on the name of the topic, a word cloud opens. By clicking on the words in the cloud, you can read their dictionary entries. I chose the topic of School and, from there, words that I did not know or that have an unexpected specific meaning in the context of education. The School word cloud looks like this:
board form gradegraduate high high school house junior master monitor PE period plus practical primary primer project quiz RE report school senior setshop statement stream stream subject theme unit (n)
A level assembly
cane carnivalclassroom comp diploma drill(n) drill(v) elementary elementary school
middle school minus
old boy old girl
school district schooling secondary school
comp BrE comprehensive school
make-up also make-up test AmE a test that you take in school when you were not able to take a previous test middle school 1 a school in Britain for children between the ages of 8 and 12 2 a school in the US for children between the ages of 11 and 14 PTA especially British English parent-teacher association an organization of parents and teachers that tries to help and improve a particular school [= PTO AmE – Parent-Teacher Organization] an active member of the PTA RE BrE Religious Education a subject taught in schools shop school subject also shop class AmE a subject taught in schools that shows students how to use tools and machinery to make or repair things in shop Doug made this table in shop. wood/metal/print etc shop One auto shop class is run just for girls. statement [transitive] British English if an education authority statements a child who has special educational needs, they give a school additional money to help teach that child superintendent also superintendent of schools someone who is in charge of all the schools in a particular area in the US REFERENCES Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. www.ldoceonline.com. Accessed 11 April 2016. Macmillan Dictionary. www.macmillandictionary.com. Accessed 11 April 2016. Quinion, Michael. World Wide Words: Investigating the English language across the globe. www.worldwidewords.org. Accessed 11 April 2016.
READING SHAKESPEARE Ilmar Anvelt
Department of English, University of Tartu
23 April 2016 was the 400th death anniversary of the Bard. To commemorate him and to participate in the Prima Vista literary festival of Tartu, the Department of English at the University of Tartu arranged a reading of all 154 Shakespeare’s sonnets. Along with Shakespeare’s originals in English and translations into our native Estonian, the sonnets were read in a great number of other languages – in addition to well known or even locally spoken Russian, German, French, etc., Shakespeare was performed in as exotic languages as Komi, ancient Greek and the Estonian sign language. The organising team included Raili Marling, Ene-Reet Soovik and Kärt Lazic. 36
A look at the audience
Ene-Reet Soovik read sonnets in English, Estonian, Swedish and Russian
Natalja Zagura reading in Russian
Alo Valge reading in German
Liina Paales performed Shakespeare in the Estonian sign language
Janika PĂ¤ll reading in Ancient Greek
Nikolai Kuznetsov reading in the Komi language 37
EATE 25 In 2006 EATE celebrated its 15th anniversary in the University of Tartu History Museum
In 2007 the composition of the Committee changed greatly. Members of the old and new Committees in Shakespeare CafĂŠ. Back row: Katrin Ojaveer, Krista Ummik, Reet Leidik,Annela Laht, Erika Hunt, Ilmar Anvelt. Front row: Erika Puusemp, Kaie Merila, Leena Punga, Juta Hennoste, Reet Noorlaid
Evi Saluveer has always been among our most favourite presenters (pictured in the classroom at MHG where Prince Charles attended a lesson)
EATE 25 Book raffles have been an essential part of our Summer Seminars. Marika NĂľmmiste (right) handing over a prize from Allecto
It is always difficult to find a seat at the presentations of our most popular lecturers
The foyer of PĂ¤rnu College is always crowded at lunch-hour
EATE 25 EATE 20th anniversary party in PĂ¤rnu Kuursaal in 2011
AS Dialoog selling books at the 2011 Summer Seminar
Registration of participants at the 2011 Summer Seminar
Photos by Reet Noorlaid
How well do you know Edinburgh? (Answers on p. 31)
Photos by Hanna Jeret, Helena Jeret-MĂ¤e and David Evans