British Novels Which Have Added To The English Language
No. 10 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This is the last in my series of British novels and it is by far the most recent. As this book (the first of seven) was only published in 1997, it would be surprising that it has already given a word to the language were it not such a hugely popular series.
This is a much-loved children’s classic about a boy, a bear, a little pig and various other animals who live in a wood. It has been translated into many languages since it was written in 1925 so, chances are, you already know the characters and stories.
Gulliver goes on a series of sea voyages. On the first trip he’s shipwrecked and ends up on the island of Lilliput where he is imprisoned by tiny little people who are at war with their neighbours over which end of a boiled egg is the correct end to crack. After he escapes and returns home he goes on a second sea voyage. This time his shipmates abandon him on the island of Brobdingnag, an island of giants. On Gulliver’s third sea voyage his ship is attacked by pirates and he visits four more fictional places and Japan, he meets magicians, ghosts of famous historical figures and an Emperor. Undeterred by his previous misfortunes, once Gulliver returns home he decides to go to sea again. He is given the post of ship’s captain but his crew mutinies and abandons him on an island ruled by talking horses and peopled by deformed savage humans called ‘Yahoos’. Eventually he returns home where he spends the rest of his days talking to his horses. Published in 1726. You might like to try an abridged version as the language is rather archaic (see excerpt below).
In EFL we talk about two types of reading Extensive Reading and Intensive Reading. Intensive reading is what usually happens in the classroom: reading to answer comprehension questions or to teach ‘reading skills’ such as skimming and scanning. Extensive reading is reading for pleasure, often fiction at around or just below a learner’s language level. Ideally extensive reading texts should be 98% known vocabulary. Continue reading →
To teach (verb) from the Old English ‘taecan’ meaning ‘to show, to point out’.
To learn (verb) from the Old English ‘leornian’ meaning ‘to study, read, think about’.
We tend to see teaching as an active, dynamic activity and learning as a passive one, as if the learner were just an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge. But perhaps, if we look at the etymology of these words, we have not always seen it this way. Continue reading →
My daughter, Lyra, is learning a poem for a school poetry competition. She wanders around the house muttering lines and rhymes to herself, making up new ones when she forgets the original (which she often does).
Listening to Lyra’s evident enjoyment of the poem I began to wonder what it is about rhyme that we find so appealing.