Inner Galactic Orchestra

My son came home from school recently and said that his English teacher had done something new in class, something that in 10 years of classes, no-one had ever done. He played me a song – the video is below – and told me that he had finally understood what the ‘present perfect continuous’ actually meant. This may surprise some of you seeing as I’m an English teacher after all. However, I’ve always said that I want my two sons to grow up in a natural English speaking environment where I can simply be ‘Dad’ and not the irregular verb driller. This means that their comprehension and speaking skills are to a high level in terms of 2nd language acquisition, although some grammatical terminology still remains elusive.

Kutiman is an Israeli musician who decided to take a fresh look at how copyright was playing out in terms of the diffusion of social media and online media in particular. For the following piece – Inner Galactic Lovers – he used ‘Fiverr’ a freelance global online marketplace offering tasks and services, beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed.

The following composition is a collage of 23 different artists from all over the world who were enlisted to play their own individual piece for the song. Kutiman contacted them all through Fiverr, received the samples from the various contributors and then put those samples all together in order to create the song, through the use of a sort of living-room / bedroom orchestra.

Thinking outside the box?

You think about me, like I do you
You’ve been on my mind since that
time when we took off for the stars.

You’ve been thinking about me, like I do you

Have I been on your mind since
that time when we took off for the stars?

We are inner galactic lovers
loving flying through the stars
We are inner galactic lovers
We are inner galactic lovers
loving flying through the stars
We are inner galactic lovers

Do you think about me, like I do you?
You’ve been on my mind since that 
time when we took off for the stars.
You’ve been thinking about me, like I do you.

Have I been on your mind since
that time when we took off for the stars?

We are inner galactic lovers
loving flying through the cosmos
We are inner galactic lovers
We are inner galactic lovers
loving flying through the cosmos
We are inner galactic lovers

Into the love that we live in
If there’s no condition,
if there’s no confusion about who’s loving who
I’ve been feeling you
from planet since stars away
We are quantumly entangled no pulling away
Just that touching those vibes through you

We made it, we made it.

Why do we talk? What is fluency?

Fluency

Fluency

It’s been what seems like ages since I last posted; about 6 months, which in the blogging universe translates into light-years. It’s been an interesting period. I’ve finished some courses, started some others and have been quite involved in testing students this year, both younger learners (13-17 years old) and adults (23-53 years old).

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the work I do, the objectives I have both for students and myself , the results I want students to achieve, and how those results can be differently interpreted by others, depending on certain testing criteria.

My attention has always been drawn to the definition of ‘fluency’ in 2nd language learning. Thornbury put it like this; ‘various researchers, working in a cognitive tradition, attempted to characterise it in measurable terms. Thus, Ellis and Barkhuizen (2005), following Skehan (1998), define fluency as “the production of language in real time without undue pausing or hesitation.”

I was reminded of this again while watching the excellent BBC documentary ‘Why do we talk?’ which tries to understand how we learn to speak primarily our first language and then others. The finest minds in the world haven’t yet been able to answer this question. One thing that sticks out from watching the documentary is the way children are analysed in the acquisition of their (our) first language.

I suppose my question is this; if the process works so naturally and so well in the 1st language, why do we work in the opposite direction in the study of the 2nd language?

Counting Sheep … conditionals … and grammar rules …

'..if I'd (had or would?) known ..I'd (had or would?) have gone..'

How/ do / grammar and numbers / go together? It’s part of my job to analyze language, yet I sometimes have to remind myself that I study it too. I’ve been a student of Italian for many years now, and my approach to the language has always been an attempt to make sense from chaos. This is due to the fact that we usually have an endless number of possible grammatical combinations and lexical structures from which to choose, every time we open our mouths, or put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard as is now more often the case).

Making the correct grammatical and vocabulary decisions, while at the same time trying to pronounce correctly, speaking at a speed that is acceptable and, last but not least, giving the impression of actually enjoying the experience, is daunting to say the least. However, it should be our ultimate objective in terms of 2nd language learning. Attaining perfection in a 2nd language is particularly difficult. Striving for it shouldn’t be.

The following video deals with numbers and common language associated with adding (plus, add), subtracting (minus, less), multiplying (by), dividing (divided by, into). What it also reminded me of was the often exasperating experience of attempting to turn all those grammar rules and all those words into something coherent, satisfying and correct.

For conditionals info. go here;  http://www.englishpage.com/conditional/conditionalintro.html

A day in the life . . language is everywhere. Chew on that!

On yer bike . . .

Okay,
So what exactly / does / this video have to do /with learning English? To be honest it took me a while to come up with something. The reason I posted it is simply because I liked the video, as well as being struck by the music accompanying the song; I then started to analyse it more carefully from a didactic perspective.

The video you see below, describing a general day in one’s life, was filmed in the Canadian city of Montreal. Canada is a predominantly English speaking country with the exception of the province of Quebec, which is principally french speaking. Around 50% of the city of Montreal is bilingual, in that both French and English is spoken fluently. The existence of two languages so historically and culturally opposed, while at the same time existing within the same sociological sphere /sfɪə(r)/ (UK) /sfɪr/ (US), is intriguing. And it’s just the excuse I needed to put this clip online.

Language is everywhere. Go and find it. The irony with regard to this post in particular and language in general, is that this video has no spoken English content; yet look at the amount of language analysis that was generated. Now chew on that!

Music

Different types of language…

Hello again,

So, why / did / I / choose/ this particular song?

1. It has lyrics which I can use to draw attention to vocabulary and pronunciation.

2. I can put it online without copyright problems.

2. It was made using 2000+ pieces of recycled paper and was filmed using an iphone4 and time-lapse photography editing, which I think is pretty cool.

3. It’s short and you’re all extremely busy, aren’t you? Although at the same time you want to improve your English, don’t you? (slight hint of irony there).

4. You might actually watch it,  listen to it and learn something new; this being the objective of the blog, after all.

I am overboard, I am lost at sea,

the decision I made was a tough /tʌf/ one to take,

but the ship that I jumped was gettin’ to me.

I am overboard, I am lost at sea,

the decision I made was a tough /tʌf/one to take,

but the ship that I jumped was gettin’ to me.

now I’m driftin‘,  but my heart /hɑː (r)t/ is sinkin‘, I’m just driftin’ alone,

but my heart /hɑː (r)t/ is sinkin’ like a stone (x3) (UK).

Now I see land ahead, I see blue skies, these crashin’ waves they are wearin’ me down, and the water’s leavin’ salt /sɔːlt/ (UK) /sɔlt/ (US) in my eyes.

I am driftin’,  but my heart  is sinkin’, I’m just driftin’ alone,

but my heart is sinkin’ like a stone (x3) (UK).

I am overboard, I am lost at sea,

the decision I made was a tough one to take,

but the ship that I jumped was gettin’ to me,

now I’m driftin’,  but my heart is sinkin’, I’m just driftin’ alone,

but my heart is sinkin’ like a stone (x3).

Technology Loop…Yeah right!

Language Loop.....

Hi again,

I hadn’t planned on posting so soon but recent feedback from a student informed me that the technology loop video below is no longer available outside the US. It’s probably because it’s part of a new TV series they are doing in America called Portlandia, and they don’t want European viewers getting it before time. I asked a friend of mine living in London to check if it was working in the UK and the answer was “no.”  I looked into the series a little more and it seems to be one of the few occasions where british style humour has travelled from the UK to the US and not vice-versa, as is usually the case. ‘English’ TV is largely influenced by its American counterpart. One of the features of British humour is its sense of the ironic and absurd, which sometimes borders on the surreal and is often presented in sketch format. American audiences generally don’t go for this type of humour; until now that is. Hopefully with the success of the series, more clips of the video will go online and I’ll be able to update it again; preferably before the series is exported to Europe in its dubbed version.

Alan

My Blog

Questions...questions...?

Hello all,

Yes, you’ve guessed it…this is my new blog. As you’ll see from reading the ‘about’ section, the idea is to provide you with a platform from which to access language content. The idea was to get to grips with the technical aspect and then bombard you with language you may (or may not) find interesting. It took me 6 weeks to understand the technical aspects of the blog which meant that I was ready to upload content around mid October 2011…..or so I thought!
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A friend of mine involved in creative visual design recently observed that the use of facebook as a means of communication was creating more questions than answers. In terms of language content on this blog I’ve also encountered more questions than answers.
I’ve been ruminating on what content to put up online for about a month now, and I’m still no closer to an answer. Well, that’s not exactly true. Putting up content will be easy; getting you to actually watch, read and make use of it will be a wholly different matter. And that’s the part that I’m really interested in.
.
I’ve decided to go with it regardless, in the hope that students will provide me with some answers. There are links and associated material on the various posts and pages, but it’s content that many of you are aware of already and don’t use that often. In fact, you only tend to use this content when I’m nagging you on a regular basis.
The text I’ve put in italics is language that you could / should find interesting and of benefit. I’ll try to keep it as natural as possible. Log it in your vocab lists and ask questions about it if unsure about meaning.
.
The posts you see below are simply tests to see what kind of content I was able to play with. I’m going to leave them there so that I can start as I mean to continue; audio-visual material, with grammar and vocabulary reference.
Please sign-up, leave comments and remember that what you post is public….so get the spelling right!!
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Alan