thinking

16 – Eytan Zweig – what words really mean – semantics and pragmatics

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Plurals are easy, right? There’s one or there’s more than one… pretty straight forward. “All”, “every”, “All the” “each” – that’s pretty simple too, isn’t it? Well, hold on to something sturdy as Eytan Zweig gets you to think a little deeper about how we both form and understand language.

The literal meaning (semantics) and the meaning of the use (pragmatics) of the language is a vital part of how we communicate in real life. So, let’s a show like this is chomping at the bit to dig down into this topic.

 

Keywords: ESL, EFL, TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, DELTA, pragmatics, semantics, linguistics, language, second language, teaching, learning, English, Israeli, Hebrew, bilingual, mulitlingual,  York, University of York, UK, England, cognition, Eytan Zweig,

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13 – What the way you speak says about you – Sociolinguistics with Andrew Euan MacFarlane

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MOT 6 - brain 1400

 

This episode, we start with a little experiment and get more interactive. Let us know what country you thought the music originated in at @MOTcast with the hashtag #motesol . I’ll put up the results on www.mastersoftesol.com

Andrew Ewan MacFarlane is a lecturer at University of York in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science and a sociolinguist. We spent a while flipping back and forth between accents and dialects, reminiscing about Margaret Thatcher, thinking about unobtrusive kiwis and kangaroos, gettin’ daaaan wit da yoof o’ London innit, and playing “Name That [Country of Origin] Tune”.

This was one of my favourite interviews so far and hopefully inspires more than a few listeners to get deeper into the subject.

Footnotes:

Margaret Thatcher’s voice – before and after

Multicultural London English

MOT on Instagram

12 – Babies and First Language Acquisition – Tamar Keren-Portnoy pt1

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@MOTcast

Now on Instagram!

Once again, I got lost in the labyrinthian corridors of the University of York Language & Linguistic Science department, this time to speak to Tamar Keren-Portnoy about first language acquisition. There’s a lot of similarities between how we learn our first language and how we acquire our second language, so it’s a useful topic for ESL / EFL / second language teachers.

She gives us insights into such things as how babies develop syntax/grammar norms, why they learn some words earlier than others, how babies are not simply mimicking their caretakers and, through her own research with Rory DePaolis & Marilyn Vihman, how babies learn through listening and the sounds they themselves make.

You may remember Marilyn Vihman from episode 9 of MOT.

Later in the year, I’ll release a mini-episode about the developmental stages of babies.

Links:

Marilyn Vihman Interview on MOT

“Travel Broadens the Mind” – Campos et al (2000)

 

Key words: baby, babies, acquisition, teaching, learning, babbling, language, babbling, cooing,

 

 

06 – The ESL / EFL student brain and how we learn – Stephen van Vlack

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As teachers, we need to be aware of how students are learning. Different brain systems need to work together in order to retain information and, most importantly, integrate it into existing systems. So, what is the best approach for teachers to give the best chance for students to improve? Stephen van Vlack slices open the brain (metaphorically) to show us how the different brain systems interact and the most effective ways for students to improve.

This is one of the more difficult subjects we’ve tackled on MOT, but Stephen breaks it down into an understandable view of how information and perception affects language learning and retention. Read the rest of this entry »

06a – Extra Interview on How ESL / EFL students learn – Stephen van Vlack

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MOT 6 - brain 1400

Here’s another 8 minutes from Stephen van Vlack on how the brain works when we learn – or perceive – new things, including how learning a second language affects the native language.

Language and Colour Boundaries/Perception – blue or green, and how red is your wine?

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The whole “blue/black-white/gold” dress photo that’s been doing the rounds in the last week or so reminded me of a very interesting point about language and perception of color.

As the dress debate went global and multilingual, perhaps not all of the disagreement on the colours may be down to how an individual’s brain is interpreting light information from the eyes. For decades, linguists have gone back and forth over whether the names for colours affect how we perceive them.

“When the orange, orange robin goes bob, bob, bobbin’ along…”

Think about it: red wine, red hair, robin red breast – these are all colour-specific descriptions that are inaccurate at best. Or, at least, they’re inaccurate now. Just a few centuries ago, “orange” as a range on the colour spectrum was simply part of “red” without a named colour category of its own. White wine, black eye… there are many examples in everyday language where the description of colour clearly doesn’t match the reality.

Read the rest of this entry »