This category contains 13 posts

An Illustrated Style Guide?

I heard about The Elements of Style Illustrated on the radio this past weekend. Illustrator Maira Kalman  had worked her magic on the ol’ Strunk and White chestnut and I was intrigued. An illustrated style guide? I pictured jazzy artistic renderings of the syntactic sentence trees I had to do in my undergrad. However, a bit … Continue reading

Corpus-based Grammars and Style Guides

I gave the keynote address at the AWELL Conference a few months ago, and one of the practical suggestions I included in my talk for writing teachers working with English language learners was to try to draw on corpus-based grammars and style guides based on real language use vs. those that try to pass off personal … Continue reading

AWELL 2016: Keynote Address

I’m giving the keynote address on the opening day of the Academic Writing and English Language Learners (AWELL) conference being held at Saint Mary’s University tomorrow. It’s a really neat conference which brings together a range of people who deal with writing in the university environment: ESL/EAP instructors, writing support centre tutors and administrators, and … Continue reading

The Joy of Dad Jokes

Dad jokes–jokes so corny, so lame, so obvious, they make us roll our eyes, groan and exclaim “DAAAAAaaaad!!!” like an embarrassed 8-year old. (Here are some, and some more, and yet another list, and even a Dad Joke Quiz.) But could Dad Jokes be the gateway humour for language learners? Lots of people have written … Continue reading

Linguistic Diversity and the CBC

I love the CBC, especially CBC Radio, and I listen a lot, so I can’t help but reflect on what I’m hearing. And it’s long struck me that the CBC doesn’t go far enough in terms of linguistic diversity– in terms of regional linguistic diversity, the evolving nature of Canadian English , and the issue of … Continue reading

Upcoming webinar: Why is English So Weird?

I’m doing a webinar on March 7 with English Online called “Why is English so weird?” Looking to History to Answer Tough Learner Questions. Here’s the description: The particularities of English orthography, vocabulary and pronunciation are stumbling blocks for many learners. However, what may appear to be random makes sense if one looks at the history … Continue reading

Lexicon Valley: How to Talk to Someone Who Doesn’t Speak Much English

A post I wrote for the Slate’s Lexicon Valley blog, How to Talk to Someone Who Doesn’t Speak Much English, was posted today. It’s labelled as “Language Travel Tips”, but it was actually originally conceived of as a series of tips for people in countries where English is the dominant language to keep in mind … Continue reading

Stigmatized Speech Behaviour in the Classroom

People love a good bitch session about their pet peeves of speech. I’m constantly coming across articles in the mainstream media about different stigmatized speech behaviour, be it vocal fry, uptalk, nasal tones, “whisper-talkers”, overuse of “like”, or misuse of “literally”. (these are examples from North American English; different pet peeves are prevalent in each region.) Many … Continue reading

Languages in Contact

If I were still living and teaching in Montreal, I would DEFINITELY bring this blog post to class to prompt a discussion on languages in contact. There is much hand-wringing around the use of anglicisms in Quebecois French, especially in Montreal. But it’s completely natural that when languages are in contact, there is some exchange … Continue reading

Teaching Register

I recently came across this article from the BBC: “Slang banned from Croydon School to improve Student Speech” and immediately did a face palm on behalf of those school administrators. Not only does this make no sense from the perspective of teenage psychology (forbidden fruit becomes all the more tantalizing), but it ignores some of … Continue reading

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