We should probably think about two things when choosing things to read in English – interest and usefulness. When we decide to read a book, a magazine or newspaper article, we do so because we think it will be of interest to us. When we choose to read an instruction manual or a train timetable, it’s not because we think it will be enjoyable but rather that it will be instructive or useful to us in some way.
Purpose is another element of our motivation for reading. When we read the news we do so for a purpose – keeping up to date on political and economic events.
The other main element in our motivation is expectation – we have a sense of what to expect before we read a certain magazine, a book by a familiar author or a brochure for a holiday resort.
Vocabulary is an essential part of language learning and teaching vocabulary in a productive way is something which must be at the front of our minds as teachers of English. Teaching new words to students at first seems quite a straightforward idea. You provide the appropriate word and its meaning and then move. However, the teacher is far more than merely a speaking dictionary.
There are many things to think about when teaching vocabulary.
How many words should you try and teach students in one class?
How do you decide which new words you should teach?
What criteria do you use to decide which words are most useful?
Some countries have formal institutions which lay down rules stating what version or dialect of a language is considered the most correct. There are many regional variations of English but there is no one organisation or body that decides what ‘standard English’ is in the way that, for example, the French Academy decides what ‘standard’ French is.
Have you learned more British or American English? Which do you prefer or think is most useful? Is it possible to say that one is better?
Did you know that many of the scary modern traditions we have at Halloween come from an ancient Irish festival?
Samhain was an old Celtic pagan festival in Ireland and celebrated the moment of division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At this time of the year, the division between our world and the ‘Otherworld’ was at its thinnest and so this allowed spirits to pass through into our world. A family’s dead ancestors would be honoured and invited back home while people also tried to protect themselves from harmful spirits who might attack them.
Are you thinking of coming to Ireland to study English?
Around 150,000 language students make the choice to come to Ireland to study English every year. Language students bring an estimated €1.2 billion into the Irish economy each year, so you should find that you are very welcome in Ireland when you do come!
Here are ten good reasons to study English in Ireland!