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 Introduction to AS Language Programme

Weekly exercises

Word of the week: mellifluous – pleasingly smooth and musical to hear. Quote of the week: ‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice’ – Bob Marley
Te reo Word of the week: arohanui – deep love Fact of the week: The capital of Brazil is Brasilia
Lesson Aims: to reflect on current status of reading, writing and comprehension Success Criteria: to have identified current reading speed, to have identified and named areas for development in reading and writing speed, to have begun reading daily
Keywords: Appreciation, Analysis Homework: To have all work written up in notes and exercise books

1. Spelling

 

The ‘Why’: The aim of this course is to produce students who are competent and effective in the use of English. Spelling is a crucial part of English and, specifically, of language. Look at the following letter.

Have a think about this letter. Imagine you are the Editor of Business Insider. Consider the following:

  1. Business Insider is one of the most respected Business information providers in the world with many top CEOs using it as a major source.
  2. The readership of this online magazine is about 5 million.
  3. The vast majority of readers are C-Suite executives.
  4. Does this email sound like the sort of person that should be working at Business Insider? Why/Why not?

 

Whether you like it, or not, you are judged on your writing ability. It is the first interaction you will have when you apply for a job, and it is the way we communicate in business, finance, tourism etc etc. It is vital that you have the skills to present yourself in the best way possible.

 

In AS Language you are also judged on your writing skills which includes, at its core, the mechanical fundamentals of spelling.

 

Tasks:

  1. You are to write out the spelling words below into your English Language notes in preparation for a quiz on Friday. You may wish to add them to your ongoing work so as to keep a running record of words that can be used as a vocab expansion, or in a separate file / book.
  2. You will be tested on these throughout the year at various intervals. For example week 8 test will consist of all words studied thus far.
  3. You will need to find dictionary definitions for all of the below words, and hand write them into your AS Language book. NB: Mostly the google definition (eg typing in ‘necessary definition’) can be wonderful, but not always.
  4. For each word you will also need to put it into a sentence. That sentence must be grammatically correct and contain the word, as it is written below (ie no derivations) and should demonstrate that you understand what that word means. For example ‘I told Louise it was not necessary for her to come along, I knew she had other things to do.’

 

necessary repetition extravagant occurred noticeable
equipped metaphorical fascinate frequency plausible
convenient illegible privilege differential across
appreciate maintenance thorough severely conscious

How to remember spelling words?

Your brain is a muscle and like any muscle it works by pushing it and making it hurt a bit. Then having a rest. There is a whole field of science that is working on how we learn things, and while it is still a bit of a mystery there are some fundamentals that we can work on.

Firstly, reading over the list isn’t going to help you very much. In the same way that reading over your notes before an exam doesn’t help you very much. You aren’t making your brain work. Let’s relate it to doing push ups. The pain from push ups comes from the fibres in the muscles in your arms actually breaking.  Dr Andre Jowett says “What we know about muscle adaption to [physical] loads is that when you put it under load or under stress, you actually cause microscopic injury to the muscle. That injury stimulates muscle healing and hopefully replication of muscle fibres and ultimately strengthening.” So it is the breaking down of the muscle, and the rebuilding of that muscle that strengthens it.

It’s the same with learning. You have to make your brain work and feel some discomfort. Like the feeling you get after an exam when you are a bit wiped out. You can make your brain work by forcing it to remember something, rather than reading it. This is the basis of flashcards. It’s also why working with others is effective. Testing and retesting is a really strong contender for the best learning – particularly of things that need to be rote learned (rote learning means you just remember it – like the alphabet).

  1. Have the words on one page, and your practice on a separate page. Look at the word quickly and then cover it, then try to write it out – then check.
  2. Try to remember the words in order.
  3. Think up a little rhyme or tune (if you are that way inclined) to remember spelling. One of the main ones I use is the spelling of onomatopoeia where each letter fits with the tune ‘Old Mac Donald’.
  4. Try to use the word more in your day to day.
  5. Test yourself on the Monday (when you first get it), Tuesday, and then Thursday. Science says that gap on Wednesday will provide the most help.

2. Grammar

English Grammar is related to expressing words in their singular and plural forms through sentences.

Grammar refers to a systematic set of rules of a language. And structure of a language, like its skeleton. It is important for language learners to understand the rules of grammar, because if you use or order words incorrectly, your sentences will not make sense.

Two Methods of Learning Grammar

By using language or by learning the rules one by one. Applying them. (Most people use both methods together.). Grammar tells us how to put a sentence together and the order a sentence should have. Different languages have different grammar. People have studied English grammar for a long time. Many of its rules have not changed for hundreds of years, but some rules are changing because the way people use English grammar is changing.

Sentence

A Sentence is a linguistic unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked, and expresses a complete thought. It can include words grouped, meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request, and command or suggest

Part of Sentences

Subject is a person, place, thing, or idea doing or being something.
Predicate describes the subject.

Subject Predicate
The lion roared
He writes well
The girl in the blue dress arrived late

Sentence Fragment

Sentence fragment is not a complete sentence, never have independent clause, but instead are dependent clauses or phrase.

Fragment can masquerade real sentences because they begin with a capital letter and end
with the period. It lacks the subject and the predicate even both the subject and the
predicate.

Where to find the sentence fragments

Sentence Fragments usually appear before and after the independent clauses to which
they belong.

* When we got in the car. We rolled down the windows.

“When we got in the car” are a sentence fragment and a dependent clause. It clearly belongs to the independent clause that follows it and should be rewritten like this:

* When we got in the car, we rolled down the windows.
* We rolled down the windows when we got in the car.

Declarative Sentence states a fact or an argument and it ends in the period.

* There are ten million people at risk.
* I am no wine connoisseur, but I know what I like.
* Manila is the capital of Philippines.

Interrogative Sentence asks a question. It ends with the question mark (?).

* Where do you live?
* Can you find my umbrella?

Imperative Sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an exclamation mark (!) or it ends with a period. The subject is usually left out and is understood to be ‘you’.

* Please bring my umbrella.
* You clear the road at once!

Exclamatory Sentence expresses excitement, conveys a strong felling or sudden emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark (!).

*You’ve broken my umbrella!
* She is the thief!
* That is beautiful!

Four Basic Sentence Structures

1. Simple Sentence is a sentence with only one independent clause. It is referred to as ‘independent’ because, while it might be a part of command or complex sentence, it can also stand by itself as a complete sentence.

Simple Sentence has the most basic elements that make it sentence: a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.

* The struggle is eternal.
* Joy waited for the train.
* The train was late. (“the train”- subject, “was”-verb)
* Ann and Joyce took the bus. (“Ann and Joyce”- compound subject, “took”-verb)

2. Compound Sentence is a sentence that contains at least two independent clauses connected to one another with a coordinating conjunction.
Coordinating conjunction is easy to remember if you think the words “FAN BOYS”.

For
And
Not
But
Or
Yet
So

* Joy waited for the train, but the train was late.
* Ann and Joyce arrived at the bus station before noon, and they left on the bus before I arrived.
* Ann and Joyce left on the bus before I arrived, so I did not see them at the bus station.

3. Complex Sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one or
more dependent clause.

Dependent Clause is similar to an independent clause, or complete sentence, but it lacks
one of the elements that would make it a complete sentence.

Dependent Clauses:
* Because Ann and Joyce arrived at the bus station before noon
* While she waited at the train station
* After they left on the bus

 

Dependent clauses such as those above cannot stand alone as a statement, but they can be added to an independent clause to form a complex sentence.

Dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunction:

after although as because
before even though if since
thought unless until when
wherever whereas whenever while

Complex sentence are often more effective than compound sentence because a compound sentence indicates clearer and more specific relationship between the main parts of the sentence.

The word ‘before’, for instance, tells readers that one thing occurs before another.

The word ‘although’, conveys more complex relationship than a word such as ‘and’ conveys.

Periodic Sentence is used to refer to a complex sentence beginning with a dependent clause and ending with an independent clause, in “While she waited at the train station, Joy realized that the train was late.”

Periodic sentences can be especially effective because the completed thought occurs at the end of it, so the first part of the sentence can be build up to the meaning that comes at the end.

Compound-Complex Sentence is a sentence with two or more independent clause and at least one dependent clause. It combines the compound and the complex sentence.

The “compound” part means that it has two or more complete sentences.

The “complex” part means that it has at least one incomplete sentence.

*His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-mooned spectacles, and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.

3. Speed Writing

 

The ‘Why’: The course requires you to write quickly and with legibility. As devices have become increasingly used in the classroom, it is important that you are practising the skill of handwriting, and – in particular – handwriting quickly.

 

Task: In your English book you need to write out the following sentence as quickly as you can in one minute. The aim of this exercise is to write as fast as you can, but also as legibly as you can. It doesn’t have to be your neatest writing, but it should be close.

 

The quick brown fox jumps right over the lazy dog

 

Make a note of your speed, and rate your legibility out of 5. We will continue to develop this over the term.

4. Speed Reading

 

The ‘Why’: The last time that you were taught to read was probably in Year 5 or 6. Yet every year you get asked to read increasingly difficult texts. That doesn’t seem right or fair. This year we are going to learn how to read quicker, and with more effectiveness. We are going to start this process by working out how fast you read now, and how you comprehend what you read. Back to basics, we are going to cover what reading is, why we do it, and how it can help. That means that, in this class, we must re-learn how to read.

 

Task: In this exercise you just need to read at a normal pace. By normal I mean that you should be able to answer some questions following (on the next page). It is vital that you time yourself honestly.

All About Reading

Think back to the time you were taught to read as a child. First, you learned the alphabet and how letters formed into syllables. Then, how syllables formed into words. Finally, you stood beside your desk and read aloud.

In oral reading, you were forced to read word by word. This habit probably carried over into your silent reading. If you are reading a word at a time silently, then you read no faster than you speak — 150 words per minute.

Forming letters into syllables and then syllables into words leads to the next logical step in reading — forming words into phrases or thought units. Words are symbols for communication that impart their fullest meaning only in association with one another.

Because you learned to read as a child, you are probably trying to meet the adult reading challenge with outdated methods from your elementary school days. Psychologists know that you form your strongest habits during childhood and reading habits are among these. No wonder most of us are unable to keep up.

Ineffective habits are generally characterized by passive behaviours, while effective ones require active behaviours. By learning to actively read, you read more in less time, improve your concentration, and understand and remember information better.

In the process of reading, your eyes function similarly to a camera.

You take a picture of the words you are reading and flash them to your brain.

Your brain instantly interprets the meaning of the words.

Actually, while you are reading this, your eyes are stopping about 95 percent of the time. You are not moving your eyes in a smooth flow but rather in jerky stops and starts.

Obviously, then, if you teach your eyes to take larger, or panoramic, pictures at each stop, they will stop less and get more. Larger pictures mean more words are flashed to the brain at each stop and your brain has the capacity to interpret phrases or even whole sentences.

Once you develop a sense of reading rhythm, you can read for longer periods without tiring and get much more meaning per minute.

When you improve your reading, you gain a lifetime of benefits such as being a better conversationalist and a more qualified job applicant. Most of the knowledge you acquire comes from reading, and knowledge is power!

No other skill you possess contributes so richly toward improving your earning power, giving you pleasure, and allowing you to lead a fuller life.

Mark your time in your English Book with Today’s Date: _____ minutes _____ seconds.

Respond to Statements: Immediately answer the following statements to the best of your ability WITHOUT looking back at the reading. That’s cheating!

Complete the task in your English book.

Estimate the number of answers you believe are correct and put the number in the blank provided.

Without looking back at the reading passage, respond to the following statements by indicating whether the statement is True (T), False (F), or Not Discussed (N).

  1. ______ The article you have just read was mainly about eye movements.
  2. ______ The most important reason for poor reading is no additional instruction since primary school.
  3. ______ If you are a word reader, you are probably reading less than 300 words per minute.
  4. ______ The next logical step in reading is to form words into thought units.
  5. ______ Words are symbols of communication that impart their fullest meaning only in the dictionary.
  6. ______ Inefficient readers read only when they have to.
  7. ______ Keeping up with our reading is difficult because of the information explosion.
  8. ______ While you read, your eyes move in a smooth flow.
  9. ______ If you learn to read more rhythmically, you will read longer without tiring.
  10. ______ Reading faster means reading more at each stop.

 

Now, estimate how many of these answers you believe you have correct out of ten _____.

5. Summary

This video is a bit clunky, but the content is worthwhile. Highly recommended watching.

The ‘Why’: The skill of summary writing is something that used to be taught a lot in school, but then just… stopped. It is a really important skill to have in business and in life. It allows you to read things, take the important parts out, and condense the writing into a smaller, sometimes simpler format. Summary skills will start off pretty bad, but they will improve! I promise!

Task: Write out the following passage into your English book and then summarise it using the explanation below.

 

The passage is taken from an article in the Times of India and discusses a topic of importance for the writer – the national crisis of incorrectly made Chai Tea.

 

Ask any Indian how he or she likes his or her tea. They will tell you chai has to be brewed and boiled for a few minutes, with water and a small amount of milk. Sounds simple enough, isn’t it?

No sir. Go to any airport in the country, and try to get a cup of tea like you make at home. You won’t get it. Instead, what you will get is a disgusting, synthetic version. It will contain coagulated milk powder and a tea bag with an ugly thread hanging out.

The temperature will be lukewarm to start with and refrigerator-cold by the time you manage to finish half a cup. The same is the case in most modern offices. The tea we get in our so-called high-end places is disgusting. It tastes and looks like leftover water in the sink with sugar added.

All this is happening in a country where tea is a life force. Indians don’t just love tea; they can’t live without it. Tea for Indians is like blood or hormones or enzymes or whatever fluid your body needs to function. And yet, you have seen them – the thousands of groggy-eyed people at any airport every morning. As they take those godforsaken early morning flights, they beg for tea.

You have been there too – at one of those shops with a noisy tea-machine that spews out lukewarm dirty water, laden with too much sugar. To have a bad cup of tea in the morning is to ruin your day. It creates an existential crisis, making you question the entire purpose of living.

Even on the plane in ‘full-service’ airlines, they drop warm water in your cup. They then give you a milk powder packet that bursts when you open it, blasting white powder all over your clothes (maybe that happens only to me). Finally, they give you something that should have been made illegal a long time ago – a pathetic teabag with the thread that’s probably there to strangle yourself.

How have we as a nation allowed ourselves to get here? If a song and dance film can launch nationwide protests and cause chief ministers to write letters, how do we tolerate bad tea every day? You, the people who work in modern offices or travel from airports, does your blood not boil when a bad cup of tea is shoved in front of you in a soggy paper cup?

Do you not want to smash that machine that makes more noise than a diesel auto, only to throw out warm waste water? How can we as Indians look at each other in the eye when we have not been able to find a solution for something as simple and vital as tea?

Sure, this isn’t important enough, some will say. No PM will launch an “Acchi Chai” scheme to transform tea-making in public places. In government offices, enough peons* exist, and face suspension if they dare give their babus* bad tea. No court will ban bad tea either, even though the judges pass through those airports and see the injustice happen in front of their eyes every day.

Still, it matters. We as Indians need to fight for tea. Globalisation doesn’t mean we adopt everything western or give up something we have down perfect – a hot cup of Indian masala tea. Travel anywhere in the world, a good chai (with Parle G biscuits or rusks) is unmatched as a hot beverage.

If every street corner and home can get it right, then our airports and offices can too. We just need to demand it. We need to innovate here, to ensure tea remains of a certain quality. Unfortunately, like Indians often do, we have accepted mediocrity here too.

Nevertheless, we should stand up for good tea. To all those entrepreneurs out there – this is a billion dollar idea. Make an automated tea machine that makes decent tea. Open fires aren’t allowed everywhere, we need machines which make tea like we like it. Piping hot, brewed and boiled.

* Peon – hired workers often performing menial  tasks

* Babus – term of respect for a man, particularly an educated man

Summary Writing

  1. Firstly, summary writing is based on material that has already been written. The summary writer must decide what to include, what to eliminate, how to reword or reorganise information, and how to ensure that the summary is true to the original meaning.
  2. Two types of thinking are crucial to summarising. The first is a selection process: judgments made about what text information should be included or rejected. The second is a reduction process: ideas must be condensed by substituting general ideas for lower level and more detailed ones.
  3. Summary writing is about finding what is important in a text. This article is 678 words (although it’s not the complete article). The aim firstly is to work out to whom is the information important? The key is to acknowledge what is important to the author. This means that you need to look for the things that the author seems to be emphasising. Clues on this is to look at the following: introductory sentences, topic sentences, summary statements, underlinings, italics, pointer phrases, repetitions etc. See if you can spot these, and jot them down underneath your writing.
  4. Sometimes two summaries are better than one. It can be easier to get things clear in your mind first, before trying to write a summary for someone else. The skill of summary writing is key to a number of industries, particularly law, commerce, health and media. You should make sure you understand the text before trying to summarise it for others. The best idea is to make your own notes and then write the summary.

 

Some things to consider:

  • Summary Length: A summary for others is shorter than a summary for yourself. Your first attempt should not be your last.
  • Knowledge of material: Although it is important to understand the text for your own writing, extensive knowledge of the text is not necessary. For the first few times that you go through this process you should really focus on the material, but once you have the gist of how the process works, the process won’t be so onerous.
  • Mechanics of Writing: The note taking section should not worry about being mechanically perfect. The emphasis is on the information and the ordering. In your summary you should be mindful of the use of mechanics (spelling, punctuation and grammar) as clarity is of great importance.
  • Audience: The main audience will need to be considered. Generally identifying the audience will determine the type of language you will use. Simplification will be required in some cases, whereas jargon words for concision may be required in other cases. You must make sure you understand the purpose of the summary.

 

Ko te reo te tuakiri | Language is my identity.  
Ko te reo tōku ahurei | Language is my uniqueness.
Ko te reo te ora. | Language is life.            

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