Thursday, January 31, 2013

(Mid Level) Letter Writing

This is very general advice. I'll keep looking for something with a bit more detail.


Letter Writing

Now here's an example of a semi-formal email. It's crisp and friendly. He's quite a big shot and it's partly a letter of refusal (well it's more open-ended than that) so he has to weigh his words carefully. He knows he's dealing with a sensitive artist! How important is the word "unfortunately" in this letter? What about the word "any" in the same sentence - what purpose does it serve? Do you think he succeeds in not sounding like a jerk? What's his secret?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

(Mid Level) A Letter of explanation

What is the apparent purpose of the letter? What is its real purpose?

Is it formal, informal or does it mix registers?

Look for formal or upper register language - how would this be said in plainer English? What are the purposes of adopting this register?

Which features could be described as narrative? How are fantasy and reality fused? How is characterisation achieved?

What techniques of tact are employed?

What subtleties might an adult reader discern that Emily may not?

How is Emily likely to respond to this letter?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(Any Level) Adrian Underhill on pronunciation

This is such a great English lesson! Even for a native speaker. After this you will understand the language in a whole new way.


Adrian Underhill - pronunciation workshop

Also try this:

Adrian Underhill's interactive phonemic chart

Thursday, January 17, 2013

(Advanced) Modernist Utopias

 Metropolis, 1927

 Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the mad, bad world of modern utopias.


Modernist Utopias

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

(Advanced) Aaron Swartz, the Creative Commons and internet privacy

 Aaron Swartz 1986-2013

Aaron Swartz was a brilliant 26-year-old software developer who most recently worked at a company called Thoughtworks, a global software developer, but before that, was well known as a developer of Reddit, the inventor of RSS, and one of the designers of Creative Commons. Aaron committed suicide on Friday, January 11. At the time of his death, Aaron Swartz was under indictment for using MIT access to log into JSTOR, a database of scholarly articles, and downloading those articles with the intent to make them public. If Swartz had been convicted of these charges, he faced more than 30 years in prison.


Aaron Swartz - a Fighter Against the Privatization of Knowledge

Also - here's how this story links up with the so-called Kim Dotcom saga in New Zealand:

 Kim Dotcom

Article (Guardian):

Kim Dotcom

Monday, January 14, 2013

(Advanced) Muslim Spain

The Great Mosque of Córdoba

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Muslim Spain. Despite periods of infighting and persecution, Muslim Spain was a land where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-existed in relative peace and harmony for over 700 years. But what some historians refer to as Cordoba’s Golden Age came to an end in the 11th century, when the society was destabilised by new threats from Africa to the South and Christendom to the North.


Muslim Spain

NB: If you have problems linking to the audio file on the In Our Time website, go here and find the title Muslim Spain:

In Our Time - Religion

Friday, January 4, 2013

(Advanced) Cypherpunks

In the age of cyber surveillance where does the boundary between private and public fall - if it still exists at all?

Andy Muller Maguhn, Jeremie Zimmerman, and Jacob Appelbaum are all prominent web activists advocating the free circulation of data and knowledge on the web. They are all key figures in the Cypherpunks movement - a movement dedicated to keeping your private data private. In this eye-opening encounter, Julian Assange discusses with them the technical challenge posed by government snooping on personal data, the democratisation of essential encryption technology, and the importance of web activism. 


From The World Tomorrow, Julian Assange

Thursday, January 3, 2013

(Advanced) Death as we know it

Anne Pringle collecting data about the lichens on the gravestones at a cemetery in Petersham, Mass.

"Death as we know it rests on an animal-centered idea of individuality." Dr Anne Pringle, who is studying the possible immortality of lichen that grow on gravestones.


A Seemingly Immortal Species
By Hillary Rosner

(Advanced) Digital Fabrication

Neil Gershenfeld 

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld talks about his Fab Lab - a low-cost lab that lets people build things they need using digital and analogue tools.


Neil Gershenfeld's Ted Talk on Fab Labs


Kim Hill talks with professor Gershenfeld on fablabs and digital fabrication.

Neil Gershenfeld: digital fabrication

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(Higher to Advanced) The Adventure of English - Birth of a Language - Ep 1

 Melvyn Bragg at Lindisfarne castle

Melvyn Bragg explores the roots of the English language which evolved from a German dialect that arrived in Britain in the fifth century.


The Adventure of English ep 1