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MAKING SENSE: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal
281 pp. Oxford University, $24.95.
Peter Sokolowski, NY Times: “The indefatigable linguist Crystal’s latest book, “Making Sense,” is a surprisingly entertaining historical and scholarly tour of the mechanics of English.
Grammar can seem as technical and off-putting as math or physics to many people who nevertheless can speak, read and write very well, and while some books on language prey on readers’ insecurity with lists of word-choice peeves and classist language shibboleths, Crystal efficiently punctures such snobbery.
His approach is to explain the points of grammar and their natural acquisition in the order in which a toddler develops language skills, a brilliant strategy that allows him to begin with the most basic concepts and build upon them while simultaneously exemplifying the descriptive nature of his work.
He illustrates the lingering “pernicious” effects of trying to fit the square peg of English into the round hole of Latin grammar, responsible for centuries of confusing information about how English works.
Discussions of semantics (what we are trying to say) and pragmatics (how we are trying to say it) give a more concrete nature to grammar, and are used effectively here to explain away the silly admonition against the passive voice in writing.
A primer on corpus linguistics and a short explanation of how our language evolved from Old English help complete Crystal’s masterly telling of why a living language’s grammar, like its vocabulary, is not only unfinished, it is unfinishable. One could not have a more genial guide for such a tour.”
Reading/Spelling tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
by Liz Evans, Huffington Post
This year, Simon is in fourth grade and Grace is in first grade, and I find myself asking them every day after school, “So how was school today?”
And every day I get an answer like “fine” or “good,” which doesn’t tell me a whole lot.
AND I WANT TO KNOW A WHOLE LOT!!!!
Or at least get a full sentence. So the other night, I sat down and made a list of more engaging questions to ask about school. They aren’t perfect, but I do at least get complete sentences, and some have led to some interesting conversations… and hilarious answers… and some insights into how my kids think and feel about school.
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
7. How did you help somebody today?
8. How did somebody help you today?
9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
10. When were you the happiest today?
11. When were you bored today?
12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
14. Tell me something good that happened today.
15. What word did your teacher say most today?
16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
19. Where do you play the most at recess?
20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
So far, my favorite answers have come from questions 12, 15 and 21. Questions like the “alien” one give kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about before.
And the answers we get are sometimes really surprising. When I asked question 3, I discovered that one of my children didn’t want to sit by a best friend in class anymore — not out of a desire to be mean or bully, but in the hope they’d get the chance to work with other people.
As my kids get older, I know I am going to have to work harder and harder to stay engaged with them — but I know it’s going to be worth the work.
Reading/Spelling Tutor in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, O-G Tutor 614-579-6021 or email email@example.com
for Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH, see below
At Understood.org, Amanda Morin makes these four suggestions (I’ve added a comment or two):
1] Catalog by Class: students can use different colored binders/folders for each separate class. Make headers on papers showing topic and date. Utilize file pockets; identify which pockets will keep ‘pages to be dealt with,’ ‘pages to hand in,’ ‘pages to be filed into a binder/folder.’
2] Have one dedicated space at home where student stores school materials: it’s difficult to stay organized if notebooks, notes, textbooks and writing utensils are scattered through the house. Have a dedicated desk if possible, but if not, a shelf or cabinet where these can always be found.
3] Create a system for study materials: the system might be as simple as a shoebox filled with paper, pencils, highlighters, staplers, clips, scissors. After finishing work, you or your student restocks the supplies and sharpens pencils for next time. A lot of time is wasted searching for these things.
4] Type up class notes: if a student types notes, they are easier to read. But typing them also helps build memory. In addition, if he emails them to himself he’s got them at school in case he forgets to bring them to class. Or: use a cloud service (e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox) to access school documents from anywhere with an Internet connection!
Amanda Morin is a parent advocate and former teacher, and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 (call or text). Or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lexi Walters Wright at Understood.org
[Reading tutoring in Columbus OH: see below]
If your family is traveling for Thanksgiving, your child may be sleeping in a strange place and following an unfamiliar schedule. Even if you’re hosting, your family’s routines may be disrupted. That’s rough for kids with ADHD.
DO This: Stick to your child’s routines as much as possible. Try to arrange travel or guest schedules so that he eats and sleeps when he usually does. And prepare your child in advance for any disruptions you foresee. Give him an overview of what will be happening beforehand, and then remind him at each stage what’s coming next.
Waiting for the Meal
When the whole holiday is centered on a single meal, the hours beforehand can feel like eternity for children with attention issues. The anticipation may make them bored or cranky, which can lead to squabbles—or tantrums.
DO This: Before Thanksgiving, enlist relatives’ help to line up some morning activities. Could a grandparent or uncle take your child to the park? Might some older cousins set up a family game for the younger kids? Let the kids know in advance what’ll be happening when. This way dinner won’t be the only thing for them to look forward to.
If your Thanksgiving involves a lot of people, your child may feel upset by the noise and activity. And kids with attention issues may get frustrated if they’ve settled down to read or work on a project and the hustle and bustle distracts them.
DO This: Whether you’re home or away, find your child an “out” spot. Agree on a place where he can go for a set period of time to be alone and listen to headphones, play a game on his phone, or read.
Young kids with attention issues often need constant direction from adults. That’s hard when you’re trying to finish making Thanksgiving dinner and can’t stop to play with your child.
DO This: First, try to get as much as possible done before Thanksgiving Day. Make what you can in advance, buy the pies, go potluck for side dishes. That way, you can set aside time to check in periodically with your child. And delegate. Is there a relative who’d be happy to oversee your child for the morning? Give him coloring books, art supplies, puzzles or a new DVD so he can keep your child occupied while you’re busy.
Take Turns Talking
Kids with attention issues may talk nonstop before, during and after dinner, annoying guests. If your child is impulsive, he may interrupt family members’ stories to tell his own. If a grandparent challenges him, he might say something rude.
DO This: Before Thanksgiving, role-play appropriate ways your child might start, join and end conversations with guests. Consider coming up with a code phrase or signal you can use to clue him in if he starts taking over the conversation.
Sitting Still through the Long Meal
Lengthy holiday meals are especially tricky for children with attention issues, who may find it hard to sit through “grace,” let alone a multi-course meal. Add unfamiliar foods and grown-up discussions, and you’ve got the makings for a meltdown.
DO This: Relax your expectations. Thanksgiving isn’t the day to expect perfect behavior, so seat him at the kids’ table. He’ll do best with some parameters, such as not interrupting the adults. But let him wander between courses. If he’s a teen, see if he wants to be “in charge” of keeping dinner fun for the younger guests.
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email email@example.com
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From eNotes, which provides study guides for students (and resources for teachers as well) here are some tips for solving chemistry equations.
Solving chemistry equations isn’t easy for most students. But practice and determination will give you confidence. eNotes asks you to keep these three tips in mind as you do your chemistry homework.
- Take a moment to organize the equation before you pull out your calculator to do the math.
- Pay close attention to the units to make sure they are canceling correctly. If units aren’t canceling correctly, then your answer won’t be correct.
- If you do a question multiple times before getting it right, make sure you look at the incorrect attempts to see where you went wrong. Did you invert a conversion factor? Forget to convert from kJ to J? Miscalculate a molar mass? This will help you make a mental checklist of potential problems in other equations.
eNotes want you to know that if you get really stuck, Editors are standing by and ready to help. You have options for access to this help, you can choose monthly or yearly subscriptions.
eNotes is giving away an Amazon Kindle Fire every month in 2012.
Like them on Facebook as well!
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Douglas Quenqua in the NY Times reports that linguists are far from calling the “Valley Girl” trend called uptalk and the use of “like” in sentences as markers of immaturity and stupidity.
They are now explaining that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people realize.
Says Penny Eckert, professor of linguisitcs at Stanford
A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute. But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.
In December, researchers from Long Island University published a paper in The Journal of Voice. From an admittedly very small sample — recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 — they found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a gutteral fluttering of the vocal cords they have called “vocal fry.”
Vocal fry is best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a stentence. Says Quenqua, it can be heard when Mae West says “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime;” or when Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live imitates Maya Angelou.
Nassima Abdelli-Beruh, a speech scientist at Long Island University, says we shouldn’t scoff. “They use this as a tool to convey something. You quickly realize that for them it is as a cue.”
And another linguist, Carmen Fought, professor at Pitzer College, says “If women do something like uptalk or vocal fry, it’s immediately interpreted as insecure, emotional or even stupid. The truth is this: Young women take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships.”
“It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people, and women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average,” according to Mark Liberman, linguist at the University of Pennsylvania.
Some linguists suggest that women are more sensitive to social interactions and hence more likely to adopt subtle social cues. Others feel women use language to assert their power in a culture that has asked them — in days gone by — to be sedate and decorous. A third theory is that young women are simply given more leeway by society to speak flamboyantly.
It is well established that female vocal fads eventually make their way into the general vernacular. Starting in the 1980s in America (after possibly emigrating from Australia), “uptalk” was common among Valley Girls.
In the past 20 years, uptalk has traveled up the age range and across the gender boundary, according to David Crystal, a longtime professor of linguistics at Bangor University in Wales. “I’ve heard grandfathers and grandmothers use it. I occasionally use it myself.”
The same can be said for the word “like,” when used in a grammatically superfluous way, or to add cadence to a sentence. It has found its way into Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, which explains that people use ” like” in a sentence “apparently without meaning or sytactic function, but possibly as emphasis.”
“Like” and uptalk often go hand in hand. There are studies that show uptalk can be used for many purposes, and sometimes to dominate a listener.
Cynthia McLemore, linguist at Penn, found that senior members of a Texas sorority used uptalk to make junior members feel obligated to carry out new tasks. (“We have a rush event this Thursday? And everyone needs to be there?”)
Vocal fry, also known as “creaky voice,” has some history. Dr Crystal cited it as far back as 1964, when he noticed it was a way for British men to denote their superior social standing.
In the United States it has been gaining popularity since 2003, when Dr. Fought detected it among the female speakers of a Chicano dialect in California.
Actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon have used creaky voice when portraying contemporary American characters (“Shallow Hal,” “Legally Blonde”).
What does it denote? Ikuko Patricia Yuasa, lecturer in linguistics at UC Berkeley, calls it a natural result of a woman lowering her voice to sound more authoritative.
But it can also be used to indicate disinterest, which teenage girls are fond of doing.
According to Dr. Liberman,
It’s a mode of vibration that happens when the vocal cords are relatively lax, when subvocal pressure is low. So maybe some people use it when they’re relaxed and even bored, not especially aroused or invested in what they are saying.
Dr Eckert says that language changes very fast, however. Most people — particularly adults — will almost surely make mistakes when they try to divine the meaning of new forms of language used by young women.
“What may sound excessively ‘girly’ to me may sound smart, authoritative and strong to my students.”
For Douglas Quenqua’s article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/science/young-women-often-trendsetters-in-vocal-patterns.html?_r=1&ref=science
Note: Every Tuesday the NY Times has a Science Times insert, chock full of great reports from the world of research as well as little known facts to intrigue any student!
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email email@example.com.