India is a place where English language skills affect further education, and, in turn, job opportunities and general quality of life. If children don’t do well at the language at school, it will undoubtedly affect their whole future. Unfortunately, many children in India learn English by rote, often without context or relation to their own lives.
In Thane district, NGO Learning Space Foundation has been set up to address these issues and help village kids learn English better. They have encouraged parents to let their kids have study time rather than help in the fields or the kitchen, and around 120 of these children have been attending regular extracurricular classes. The fact that the classes are voluntary and some children have to travel over 3km on foot to get there means they must be doing something right.
The curriculum used in the classes simplifies English, gives it a context, and incorporates tribal culture, drama, music, and art. It even helps kids with other subjects like maths.
It’s really inspiring to see that it’s possible to make study so relevant and fun that kids really want to learn.
Full article: The Times of India.
Every December I become a bit of a sucker for all things Christmassy, and I thought I would share a bit of a language related distraction with you. If you’re anything like me, there’s always a reason for a ten minute* activity break.
Here is a list of Christmas-themed quizzes available on Sporcle. There are quite a few, so here are some languagey ones:
*I won’t be held responsible if you decide to do more quizzes on this site!
It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of people studying Mandarin Chinese these days, but I always like to see figures. The Confucius Institute estimates that there are around 40 million people learning Chinese worldwide. This, of course, doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of Chinese kids learning the language within the PRC.
The numbers are bound to rise over coming years, even despite the relative difficulty of the language when compared to those with standard alphabets. Of course, in the 90s, Japanese was the ‘it’ language, so we may see a different trend in 10 years. Personally I’d like to see Chinese and English as double lingua franca, but maybe I’m too into the idea of a Firefly-like future.
Oh, for reference, it’s estimated that there are currently over a billion students of English as a foreign or second language, but again, that includes a lot of those Chinese kids.
In news that has made Kiwis all over the world feel vindicated, the often controversial meringue dessert, pavlova, has been declared a New Zealand invention. Australians and New Zealanders have long debated the origin of this tasty treat, but now the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has made a decision for us.
The first recorded pavlova recipe was published in Davis Dainty Dishes, a publication by Davis Gelatine (NZ), in 1927.
The additions to the latest online update to the OED include nearly 1400 words which have some kind of link to New Zealand. They include slang words and nearly 300 words originating from Maori.
Did you know that the made-up malady Mondayitis was a New Zealand invention? The first use of this was in 1979, quite a few years after the Aussies came up with the phrase pulling a sickie in 1953.
Sadly, the Maori words pakaru (meaning broken, not functioning) and the half-English-half-Maori half-pai (incomplete or of a poor standard), were recorded as pukeroo and half-pie. I guess this is all part of the borrowing. For reference, the pai in half-pai is the Maori word for good.
Full article: The New Zealand Herald.