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.

            File: cefr-diglossia-esp.pdf  

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.

           File: againstcoursework.pdf

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.

                                   File: parkinson.pdf

   See also “The nature of science and the effects on attitudes and languageFile: 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!

                        File: footnotes.pdf