Deliciously and delightfully
provocative and contentious
All these essays make serious points
1. UCAS discriminates against multilinguals.
Anyone applying to study as an Undergraduate in a British University has to apply through a centralised system called UCAS. Here is what I think of their evaluation of foreign languages.
pdf version: File: ucas.pdf
2. Practical original solutions to the low level of Foreign Language learning in Britain.
pdf version: File: french.pdf
3. The CEFR, diglossia, and ESP
Diglossia - the simultaneous existence of both High and Low forms of a language- has largely been ignored by ESP - which has worked assuming that bilingual only situations exist. The reality is that a large part of the world work under conditions of diglossia AND multilingualism. The Common European framework of Reference can easily be adapted to include diglossia.
4. AGAINST continuous assessment and modular examinations
FOR undivided final summative examinations
In recent years continuous assessment and modular examinations have become very popular. Here I argue that continuous assessment is totally unfair and wrong since it measures ability before the end of the course - and what counts is the ability at the end, not during the course. Also, it can take two years to really understand a subject. A series of final summative examinations are much fairer.
5. Why is a spider not an insect?
This is NOT a question of biology, but goes to the heart of a highly contentious philosophy which is very popular in the field of ESP, namely, that facts are ‘socially constructed’. Realism and Constructivism are compared, and a call is made to establish where Constructivism is useful and true, and where some form of Realism rules. File: spider.pdf
6. Constructivism: a case in point. An interactive critique of Parkinson J and Adendorff RD (2004). The use of popular science articles in teaching scientific literacy. (English for Specific Purposes 23(4):379-396)
First Published 27 May 2009. Minor changes 11 December 2009
To avoid talking in the abstract I have chosen an article in the flagship journal of ESP, which is readily available free of charge online, and I have interacted with it and showed up some of the absurdities of taking a Constructivist position. En route I many times criticise the authors for making sweeping statements - unjustified generalisations. In other words, the authors repeatedly fail to address the question of validity. I also present a more detailed and nuanced continuum from Ultra-specialised texts to the most popular texts.
See also “The nature of science and the effects on attitudes and language” File: science-and-language.pdf in which constructivism and realism are compared.
7. In defense of footnotes
Footnotes have received a bad press in recent years. Many people dislike them and frown on their use in theses. Yet it is difficult to write a long piece of clear uncluttered academic text without them!