In School in Germany: Picture Games

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To start off this article, I would like to offer a word of advice to teachers whose passion also includes photography: Take as many pictures as you can and keep as many as you can. You may never know when and how you will need them- especially if you find the best ones for an activity (or several) for your class. 🙂  This principle I’ve followed for years which has led to not only successful activities but also successful articles.

This applies to vacation time, as two thirds of the population of German children are starting school now, with the remaining third still out until September. The same trend applies in the US, where half the schools start in mid-August; the rest after Labor Day. Children gather vast amounts of experiences through travel, summer camps, visits to long-distant relatives and friends, work and other events that add experience and enrich their knowledge of what’s around them. And at the beginning of the school year, they would like to share that experience with other classmates and especially their teacher.

After all, as we would like to look at their interests and get to know them, we can help them along so they can be what they want to be, right?  Be all that you can be, like in the US Army commercial. 😉

 

If you, as a teacher, have some problems coming up with activities to encourage the students to use their language skills and share their experiences with others, there are some activities that can help. Using a collection of photos, you can introduce the following exercises to them to motivate them to speak and be creative. These activities are not only meant to break the ice in terms of establishing communication between the teacher and the students, it is meant to unlock the knowledge that has been sitting in the freezer inside the students’ heads and it just needs to be thawed out. For the first exercise, photos from the teacher are required for use, whereas the second and third activities one can also use the photos from the students, if requested. In the fourth and final exercise, the students should present their photos and images, even if through Powerpoint or a slideshow.

Here’s a look at the photo activities you can use in the classroom (suitable for all ages and language levels):

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Picture This:

Based on an exercise in Baron’s TOEIC Preparatory Book, the object of this game is to look at a picture provided by the presenter to the group, and identify what is seen in there. How students view it and express themselves depends on what the picture has. The picture can be a landscape, a certain scene with people doing activities, a phenomenon, or something totally different. What is seen is what is to be identified. Some people may feel restricted because they have to focus on the picture itself and therefore may have some difficulties finding the right vocabulary for the pictures. Yet by the same token, especially if the activity is done in groups, one can take advantage of learning new words from this game or even refreshing the vocabulary that had been sitting unused for some time.  There are two ways of doing this activity: one is in a large group where each student can find what is in the picture and make a statement on it. The other is in pairs or small groups, where each one receives a picture, analyses it and can present it to the rest of the class. With the second variant, five minutes of preparing and five to ten minutes of presentation total will suffice, pending on the number of students in class.

As a trial run, use the picture above and find out what you see in there. You’ll be amazed at what you will find happening at a place like the Westerhever Lighthouse at the moment of the pic. 😉

 

Finish the Story: 

This activity comes from the film, Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Originally in the film (produced and directed by the late Sidney Pollack), the character Karen Dinesen (played by Streep) is a story-teller and in a conversation with Denys Hatton (played by Redford) and others, she explains the concept, where one starts the story with a sentence, where the other finishes the story the way it is seen fit. Like in this example:

While one could adopt this concept in the classroom, if it was a one-to-one training session, in larger groups, it would not be as exciting as it is when each student adds a sentence to the first one given by the teacher, and going through a couple rounds until the entire class feels the story is complete. This concept helps students become creative while at the same time refresh their knowledge of sentence structure and a bit of grammar. While one can try this without pictures, more challenging but exciting would be with pictures, especially from summer break, like the ones presented below. Try these with the following sentences below and complete your own story……. 🙂

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It was afternoon on the North Sea coast and a storm is approaching. It is windy and perfect weather for kite-flying………   

 

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It is high tide, and the beach is underwater. Two people sitting in Strandkörbe are taken by surprise……..

 

Make a Story:

 Going further into talking about vacations and things to do in the summer is creating your own story, using a pic provided by the teacher. In groups of two or three, students have five minutes (for those on the beginner or pre-intermediate levels, 7-10 minutes should suffice) to create a story to present to the class. The advantage of this exercise, is that students are able to exchange ideas and knowledge to create a fantastic, rather interesting story to share with the rest of the class. In small groups of six or less, the exercise can also be done individually.  Even when you have pics like these below, which are rather simple, one can create great stories out of it. The whitest and plainest of canvases make for world-class pictures with this game.  Word to the wise  from my former uncle, who was a world-class painter. 😉

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Mini-Presentation:

With time constraints being the thorn in the side of teachers, one has to go by the principle of “Less Means More,” and optimize your class, in order to make learning as effective as possible. Mini-presentations are the best way for students to talk about their vacation in the shortest time possible. With a couple pics as support, each student has 2-3 minutes to talk about their trip.  The downside to this activity is that the student does not have much to talk about. It is possible though to choose one aspect of the vacation that you love the most and would like to talk about. The best aspect always receives the best attention. How it is presented depends on the student’s creative talents. One can focus on a sport the student tried, a wonderful place the student visited, a local food the student tried and loved, or a local event that took place during vacation. It can also include a summer job, summer camp, talent show or even a local festival, such as a parade, county fair or city market. Whatever event was the highlight, the student should have a chance to present it- as long as it does not overlap with another presenter.  🙂

 

There are several more activities which require the use of photos, while an increasing number of them require the use of 2.0 technologies, such as blogs and other interactive platforms, yet these four exercises do not require the use of technology (minus the Powerpoint aspect), but more with your language skills and your creative talents.  While these four activities can be used at any time, with even different themes, such as Christmas or school-related events for example, for the purpose of reactivating their language knowledge and getting (re-)acquainted with the students and teacher, are they perfect for the occasion. By implementing one or more successfully, the class will become so involved, it will appear that the first day in school never happened, and that the class will pick up where it left off before break, without missing a beat.

Even more so, when using photos for classroom use, a teacher can do a lot with them, while the students can benefit from them through their own stories. Therefore, take a lot of pictures and be prepared to use them for your future classes. Your students will thank you for it. 🙂

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Dining in Stein in Schleswig-Holstein: Some More Tongue-Twisters in English

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Actors, singers and comedians have done it. Teachers and professors as well. In order to better articulate their words to the audience, they had to practice speaking with a wine cork in their mouths. Situated in a vertical position between the upper and lower jaws, this technique has been proven effective in getting their mouths to move, while stretching it in a vertical position.

This exercise is also quite useful when learning English. 🙂

There are several words, whose endings produce the “ahhh” sound, in particular the endings of I+ consonant+ E. Regardless of which consonant you choose to insert, they all have the same result- a sound you produce while your mouth is in a vertical position. The difference is simply the different intonations you use.

And therefore, using the theme of dining in Stein, in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, here are some tongue twisters for you to practice, with the goal of getting you to stretch your mouth and better pronounce the words in English.

So without further ado….. 🙂

 

-INE/-EIN:

Two swines dine in Stein

Stein is in Holstein

Two beer steins

From Schleswig-Holstein

Enshrined in Turpentine

Like a serpentine

Whining to the swine

While dining with wine in Holstein.

 

 

-IDE/ -YDE / -Y/ -IE:

Clyde dyed his hide with dioxide

Clyde died from carbon monoxide

Dr. Hyde dyed his hide with peroxide

Dr. Hyde died from carbon dioxide.

Where are Clyde and Dr. Hyde?

They hide and confide to Heidi

And take pride from the dye on the hide

That they died from dioxide and not peroxide.

 

-IBE:

Jeff scribed a jibe

Geoff subscribed to Jibe

Jeff conscribed a bribe

Geoff unsubscribed

Jeff prescribed Geoff to Gibe

Now Geoff starts to describe

How Gibe circumscribes a bribe

And describes to a tribe

How Jibe and Gibe describe

How to circumscribe a bribe.

 

-ICE:

Three mice stole the dice

The dice had spice on ice

Three mice had lice on the ice

Who gave advice at a price.

The lice sliced the ice

And the mice were nice

And traded allspice with the lice for spice

To put on the ice.

Now the mice and the lice

Are eating ice with spice

And gave advice for allspice

Eaten while on ice.

 

 

-IME:

Two mimes chimed in.

A crime was chimed at bedtime

A mime did a crime at dinnertime

A mime chimed about a crime at nighttime

When bedtime chimed for the mime

It’s crime-fighting time at daytime

When a mime chimes about lime

Stolen at lunchtime by a mime

That lime was worth a dime

Was it worth a crime for a mime to steal a lime

When it was lunchtime and halftime

Of a football match between mimes?

 

  -ILE:

Three juveniles pile a woodpile

Two crocodiles are in the Nile

Somewhile a mile of crocodiles

Saw a pile of reptiles

While the juveniles reconcile

To the two crocodiles in the Nile

Who are bile and riled

Because the reptiles became Gentiles

Who tiled the mile of crocodiles

While the two crocodiles swam into the Nile.

 

 -IPE

Two pipers swiped bagpipes

Two bagpipes were wiped by snipers

They griped about the bagpipes’ stripes

And wiped the pipes with blowpipes.

Now the pipers griped about the blowpipes

The handypipes are way too ripe

The striped bagpipes look like cesspipes

The gripes turned to tripe

The pipers piped their bagpipes

And blew the snipers into the stovepipe

They gripe no more because the pipes are stripe

And tripe no more they try.

 

-IZE

We organize to unionize

And socialize to romanticize

And personalize to institutionalize

And nationalize to legitimize

And equalize to legalize

And overcapitalize to monopolize

And overspecialize to modernize

And overdramatize to outsize

And overemphasize to moralize

And robotize to radicalize

And vandalize to terrorize

And universalize to unrealize

And vitalize to vocalize

And spiritualize to memorialize

And stabilize to visualize its size of

a globalized  society.

 

How’s the mouth stretching now? If you feel a pull, then it’s working wonders. Keep practicing until you can hear the difference. Good luck. 😉

 

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Stein is a resort town in Schleswig-Holstein. Located east of Kiel along the Baltic Sea coast, it has a population of 830 residents and belongs to the district of Plön. For more on the town, please click here to the town’s website. 🙂

 

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The Shunned: A guide to suffixes with -ion, -ial, and -ian

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The word “shun” is one of the worst words a person practicing Christianity can say when practicing their religious faith. To shun someone means to exclude him or her from a religion or club for actions considered a violation of the code of conduct. Martin Luther was shunned by the Catholic Church for his publication of his 95 Theses in 1517, questioning the Pope in Rome about the way people believe in Christ, the sale of Indulgences, and excluding people from the Church, giving the rights to read the Bible in Latin to the privileged ones. In other words, his accusation against the Church for its exclusion ended in his own excommunication.

Look at the last sentence closely: accusation, exclusion and excommunication. While the first word means to defer responsibility to the Church for its actions, the last two mean the same as shun. However, in grammatical terms, they all share one common denominator: they all ended in “-shun!”

It is sometimes difficult to find out the rules involving suffixes for all words in the English language because even though they change the grammatical function of the words (derivation between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs), the rules of pronunciation and the meaning of the words after adding the suffixes are different, thus making it difficult to work with this topic.

 

There are some suffixes, like the “shunned ones-” the theme of this article, where one can look at the pattern behind the spelling of the words and how they are pronounced. This is the case here. The “shunned ones” feature words, whose suffix endings consist of the following:  -tion, -sion, -cation, -zation, -sation, -cial, -tial,  -tian, -cian,  and in a couple cases, -science.

Examples of such words are found below:

special, nation, technician, organization, realisation, and conscience

Note the endings marked in cursive.  With the exception of nation, all of the aforementioned comprises of a root word, plus a “shunned” suffix, whose pronuncialtion starts with an “sh-” sound. Hence the word shun.  😉  As a general rule, regardless of the number of syllables in each word with a shunned one, the stress is always at the second to the last syllable, as seen in the examples below:

special, technician, organization, communication, commercial

In German, because many words have similar meanings, especially with those with “-ion”, the stress is at the end of the word. However, as some words have -sierung- as equivalents, the “-sier-” portion is stressed, not the “-ung.”

Here are some exercises that will help you practice your pronunciations with the “shunned ones.” Enjoy! 😀

 

Exercise 1.  Practice pronouncing the following “shunned words” and determine the meanings in your own words, and (in some cases), your own native language. Notice the difference?

-cian/-tian:  physician, pediatrician, mathematician, logician, politician, electrician, mortician, optician,  magician, musician, Christian

Note: These endings indicate that they represent personal nouns.

 

-tion:  evolution, emancipation, citation, devotion, emotion, station, annexation, devastation, commotion, procrastination, affirmation, confirmation, explanation

-sion:  confusion, inclusion, exclusion, expulsion, introversion, conversion, inversion, diversion, division, recession, procession, percussion, concussion, collision, commission

Note: These endings indicate that they are nouns that represent events.

 

-zation:  utilization, organization, memorization, internationalization, localization, regionalization, urbanization, McDonaldization, rationalization

-cation: classification, clarification, gratification, personification, unification, implication, medication, fortification, identification, modofication, vacation

Note: These endings deal with nouns representing process. The German equivalents are mostly -sierung, but there are some that end with -barkeit.  A link to McDonaldization is highlighted. 

 

-cial: beneficial, special, social, crucial, official, judicial, psychosocial, facial, multiracial, spacial, financial, glacial, artificial, provincial.

-tial: confidential, spatial, celestial, preferential, presidential, essential, exponential, torrential, potential, residential, martial, differential.

Note: These endings function mainly as adjectives, although a few of them function as nouns. 

 

Exercise 2. Tongue Twisters:

The emancipation, regionalization, localization, annexation, proclamation, creation of a nation creates great communication.

The obsession of a procession makes a concussion caused by collision due to inclusion by the commission.

She was essential, she was special, she was residential, she was social, she was an official.

Vacation is the best medication against gratification of the mummification not mortification nor gasification nor petrification nor personification of the co-worker.

The unionization of an organization makes rationalization an Americanization through the categorization of the barbarianization of the generalization of the republicanization of this country.

How many physicians, pediatricians, mathematicians, logicians, politicians, electricians, morticians, opticians,  magicians, beauticians, and musicians do we need to make a good Christian?

Evolution makes pollution; revolution makes execution; prostitution makes prosecution; distribution makes resolution; dillusion makes institution.

Shunned means the exclusion, expulsion, excommunication, circumvention, polarization, isolation, decomission, rejection, elimination of a person from an institution because of a revolution, insubordination, insurrection and damnation of its organization.

 

And for the record, that was what happened to Martin Luther in 1517. But he lived to start the revolution that led to the establishment of the Lutheran Church. 😉

God bless that man. Amen!

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When Cleopatra was a Goddess

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Part Two on the series on Personal Nouns looks at the role of the female in the English language. To start off this article I would like to ask this question: If there is a god, why is there not a goddess? After all, some women deserve to be called a goddess for their part in influencing and helping lives of others. 😉  I knew one from my days in college who was into poker and had a great sense of humor. Still, everyone called her a goddess.

But aside from that, how many personal nouns carry this well-esteemed “-ess,” honoring the feminists from the days of the Middle Ages and even further back to the waning days of the Roman Empire?

Nichts leichter als das: zu wenig!  While every German ending of a feminine noun ends with “-in” in singular and “-innen” in plural, not more than 200 personal nouns carry the feminine form. While we have the most common words, like actress (for actor) and waitress (for waiter), do we know that words, like aviatress, creatress, empress, governess, mistress, postmistress, sorceress, stewardess, titaness and veteraness even existed? Believe it or not, even though many of these words are becoming part of a memory, they are part of the English vocabulary that honors the women both rich and poor and regardless of which period these words came from. The conversion from the masculine version to the feminine version is simple: -ess after the ending with -r, -n, or in some cases, -ch. A guide on which feminine words exists in English can be found here.

So keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the following:

Part A.:  Which of these words have a feminine form? Mark with an f and write on the side what they are.

SPORTSCASTER            DUKE            ADVENTURER       AUTHOR        CREATOR      DEMIGOD       PRINCE           DIRECTOR           HOST            ENGINEER           TEACHER           PROFESSOR         PEER  PORTER          TIGER          FEMALE           WRESTLER            PROPHET

Part B.: Matching.  Use the words marked in bold print in the text above and complete the sentences below.

  1. Amelia Earhart was the first _________ to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. There were many more _____________ who fought in the Vietnam War than in World War II.
  3. J.K. Rowling is the ___________ of the wizard, Harry Potter and his friends.
  4. Cleopatra was the only known _________ of Egypt, and one who killed herself in protest of the Roman Conquest. (GQ: How did she take her life?)
  5. Yet many historians considered Cleopatra to be a _________ because of her god-like powers over much of her empire and beyond.
  6. In Salem, many women were burned at the stake for being __________ during the infamous 1692 witchhunt.
  7. If you see a ___________ on your next jetliner, say hi to her and tell her how much you appreciate your service.
  8. While a _________ loves affairs, a _________ does her formal affairs by delivering mail in sparsely populated places.
  9. While Angela Merkel is Germany’s chancellor, Nikki Haley is one of a handful of ___________ in the US. She is in charge of affairs in South Carolina.

 

Part C.: Odd man out.  Which one is the odd man out? Underline the word.

  1. Businesswoman     Policewoman     Congresswoman    Adventurer
  2. Adulteress     Mistress      Trophy Wife       Countess
  3. Idolatress    Goddess    Demigoddess   Worshipperess
  4. Lioness    Tigeress   Leopardess   Catess
  5. Highness    Heiress     Femaleness   Huntress

Do you know some other feminine words in English that should be added? Please add them in the comment section of the Files both here as well as on its facebook pages. I bet there are more than what are mentioned here. After all, women deserved to be recognized for their work over the centuries, right?

I think so. 🙂

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Processing a Personal Noun

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Derivatives- words where by changing the suffix, not only does the grammar form changes, but also the meaning. Derivatives can apply for verbs, adjectives, adverbs and especially, NOUNS.

Nouns feature four different parts: common, proper, process and personal. An example of how the four parts work come with this example: bank.

Common noun:  a bank

Proper noun: Sparkasse Bank (Germany);  US Bank (USA)

Process noun:  banking- a process of handling accounts, transactions, savings, etc.

Personal noun: banker-a person who handles accounts of other customers

While we pay more attention to the first three types of nouns, the fourth one is just as important because it focuses on the person doing the occupation or process. While in the German language, the endings of personal nouns end mostly with “-or” or “-er” (add          “-in,” “-en” and “-innen” if they are feminin single, plural and feminin plural, respectively), the endings in English are dependent based on what suffix is used. There is little research done on how to convert from noun as a process to a noun as a person, yet the interest in this topic is still high especially as for every 100 people who are starting to learn English, at least 30 of them will eventually ask the teacher why there are two different nouns: a process/common/proper noun and a personal noun.

While the conversions between the two vary, here are some rules you should keep in mind:

ST- Personal

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Nouns with -ics, -ce, -sis, -ism and -cs are usually converted to personal nouns by adding just the -st or -te.

SHIP- Process

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Personal nouns with -n(d), -d, -ce, and -er are usually provided with the suffix -ship when converting to a noun based on process. Ship is one of a handful of suffixes that can be found in over 300 nouns in English. A link will show you the list.

LOGY/LOGIST

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When a process noun ends in -logy, when converting to personal noun, the suffix ends with -logist. This type of nouns are found mostly in occupations dealing with sociology and human medicine.

GRAPHER- Personal

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Ending with -graphy, personal nouns have the suffix of -grapher at the end. This type of nouns can be found in the areas of technology and spatial topics.

-ING vs -ER

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Whenever a process noun has an -ing at the end, when converting to a personal noun, the -ing noun is replaced with that of either -or or -er.

SHORT PROCESS

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For some cases, but not all cases, personal nouns with -er or -or are longer than the process noun, as in the conversion process, the -er/-or is dropped when it is a process noun.

Other personal nouns can be found via link, yet the list and rules are not complete as there are probably more that can be added. But these rules are just the starting point of the conversion.

Let’s have a look at some exercises below: 🙂

Part A.  Change the nouns based on the following instructions:

Process -> Personal

ecology;  anthropology; geology; typography; oceanography; greeting; doctoring; registering; editing

Personal -> Process

Auctioneer; Astrologer; Astronomer; Capitalist; Dancer; Supervisor; Singer; Repairer; Registrar

 

Part B.  Choose the correct personal noun to complete each sentence

  1. A person who decides whether the criminal is guilty or innocent and helps the judge decide on the person’s fate is called a __________     

a. stenographer     b. juror     c. analyst   d. reporter

2. Global warming and its effects on our way of life are based on information by the __________.

a. climatologist     b. politician     c. oil monger      d. reporter

3. Which of the professions are the most underappreciated? (More than one may apply)

a. teacher    b. cashier    c. photographer   d. neurologist    e. driver    f. farmer

4. If you want to publish a book you need the following: (More than one apply)

a. editor    b. writer    c. photographer    d. stenographer   e. geographer

5. Which occupation is considered a hobby?

a. cashier    b. farmer    c. sailor    d. photographer

 

Part C. Which is the odd man out? Mark the noun that does not exist in English.

  1. scientology   spankatology  sociology  pyschology    astronomy
  2. employmanship   friendship   comradeship   craftsmanship
  3. radiology   ecology    cardiology   neurology   autistology
  4. nationalism    communism     socialism    totalitarianism   evilism
  5. wrestling   boxing   nordic-walking   lazying   weight-lifting
  6. penmanship   readmanship   editing    stenography
  7. science   technology   humanology   politology

 

There is another aspect of a personal noun that requires an additional article. This one deals with gender and personal nouns. While the lines are drawn between male and female in German, the topic is rather tricky in English. More in the next article.

 

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An Interview with Fiona Pepper

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How difficult is it to understand the language of another person’s tongue?  This is something that many of us have dealt with, especially when traveling to/ in a foreign country. It is even more difficult when you are learning the language of the country you are living in, only to find that no one understands you because of the dialect and accent you use. Take German, for instance. Most of the non-native speakers of German speak high German, yet when communicating it with someone from a region with a different dialect, such as Mecklenburg-Pommerania (with its Plattdeutsch), Franconia in Bavaria, or even Schwabia in Baden-Wurrtemberg, they not only may not understand what you are saying. In fact, they may respond with their own dialect, which despite living in the country for many year, you may not be able to understand at all.

I have to admit, I was taken aback when my former boss at a German university, who had spent 12 years in Scotland, once told me that my American accent was too strange to understand, even though it is Chicago-style, the dialect that is considered high American English and spoken in the Midwest, where I originate (I’m a Minnesotan, by the way). An article about this subject can be found here.

 

But suppose our language is indeed strange to understand?

 

Last year, the Flensburg Files profiled a genre of the week entitled Skwerl, starring Karl Eccleson and Fiona Pepper, to show how a foreign language can be strange from an outsider’s point of view, featuring an activity for students learning English or any foreign language to try and decipher . Admittedly, as a teacher of English, I tried it with my students, only to find that there were many interpretations as to how the characters behaved toward each other in the five-minute skit. One of many questions the students had was what exactly happened in the story.

 

Well, I took a chance to find out for myself by interviewing Fiona Pepper. Absent from acting for two years and is now a radio broadcaster in Australia, Ms. Pepper took a few minutes of her time to answer some questions I had for her. For those who guessed that the couple would break up, you will be amazed as to what she mentions about Skwerl and and how a person can interpret the story from many angles.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Tell us about yourself: Why go from actress to radio host? How many years have you done both?

I studied acting at a well-respected Australian drama school called Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA), I worked as an actor for around 6 years and during that time I was involved in the making of Skwerl. I’ve mainly worked in theatre as well as acting in some films and commercials. I’ve now been work in radio for around 2 years. I decided to study radio because I felt frustrated working as an actor and not feeling in control of my career trajectory. There are many parallels between radio and acting and really when it comes down to it radio is simply another form of story telling.

 

  1. How many (short) films had you made before making the career change to radio host?

I had been working as an actor for around 6 years before I moved into radio, I’m not sure of the exact amount of short films/ films I had made in that time.

 

  1. Skwerl was released in 2011 and your role was the woman who makes a special meal for the boyfriend (played by Karl Eccleson). Can you briefly describe the character and her changes in personality in the story?

The character is a mid 20’s woman who is in a serious relationship, she lives with her partner and in the film they have a disagreement over her partner’s decision not to attend her mother’s birthday. I think this is probably an ongoing disagreement that the pair have.

 

  1. Skwerl describes the way English can be perceived by non-native speakers, yet even from a native speaker’s point of view, up until the last two sentences in the clip, it seems a bit more Dutch with some local Australian in there (from my observation). Given that plus the script formulated by Fairbairn and Eccleson that I read, what language is spoken here?

We weren’t speaking a particular language, the words were all made up. In terms of where the words were derived from, I can’t be certain because I didn’t write the script but Karl speaks fluent German and French, so I’m sure when he and Brian were writing the script they would have been drawing from other languages.

 

  1. After trying this out with some students, here is the plot: A nice dinner ends up going down badly after the man forgets to do something; they both get into a fight; woman wants to break up with the man for his actions, takes the plates and runs into the kitchen, crying; man is very angry because of all the years of love and dedication with her; woman brings out a pineapple with candles on there and in the end, there’s silence with the two staring at each other. Am I right with this plot, or are there some important details missing?

To be honest, I don’t think we were particularly clear on the plot when we made the film, it is therefore very much open to interpretation. The films focus is obviously on language, so the actions of the film were fairly open ended. When it came to Karl and I defining the plot it was really just to help us try and somehow remember the dialogue.

 

  1. What’s the symbol behind the pineapple and the three candles?

Once again I didn’t write the film so I’m not exactly sure, I think the visual impact of the pineapples and candles were more of a focus then what they actually symbolized.

Author’s note: One of the points students and teachers have mentioned with the pineapple is the three candles where the candles represented the number of years the characters had been together and the pineapple represented the place where the two had met. However, this is open for other interpretations.

 

  1. By looking at the clip once more and from an outsider’s point of view, how strange is English?

I don’t think it’s just English, I think all language is strange from an outsider’s point of view.

 

To sum up the interview, what Ms. Pepper and the crew did with Skwerl is to present a dialog in a language unknown to any of us for two purposes: to interpret the scene but also to make a point that no matter what foreign language you are learning, it will become strange at first, especially when dealing with the different dialects and accents. It is more of the question of learning the language and all the tricks and tips involved. When that is done and you have mastered the language, it opens a new world, both big and small. Small because you can understand what the “natives” are saying, but big because learning a foreign language makes you more open to new things, as well as helps you foster your development as a human being with intellect and a diverse background.

This is something to think about, not just when you try this Skwerl exercise with your groups, but also when learning a foreign language or even a regional dialect in your own language.

To follow Ms. Pepper and her works as an Australian radio broadcaster and actress, please click here and enjoy all her documentaries. For her help in clarifying this interesting play, whose activities and genre profile you should click here to view, the Files has her thanks.

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The Beamer and Laptop: An Inseparable Love Affair

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If there is a rule book on how to effectively teach an English as a Foreign Language class and there is a section on the usage of technology, one should expect to abide by the following two rules:

  1. No matter how hard you prepare, always expect the element which will make you feel unprepared, and
  2. The beamer and the laptop are like a relationship between a man and a woman: No matter how hard you try, if they don’t connect, it doesn’t work.

The usage of technical equipment in the classroom, be it the beamer or the Smartboard, or be it a video conference call or technical equipment with special features to ooh and ahh the students, has become more and more popular for use in any class, including foreign language teaching. Yet no matter how much experience and competence the teacher has with the use of technical equipment, something bizarre can happen at any time, which there is no control over.

This takes us to the love affair between the laptop and the beamer. Usually, like a man loving a woman, when a laptop is connected with the beamer, then it must work 100% of the time, right? Not in the case of the story of a teacher and a group of students working at a large electronics company in Germany recently. The story behind it is as follows:

In the first three months of teaching English for business, the group met in a small classroom that featured a mobile beamer, speakers and a flip chart with markers. The teacher provided his own laptop, which was an Acer running on Windows 8. The beamer was used to show students the vocabulary of certain words covered in a chapter- a way of saving paper used from the flip chart. The connection between the beamer and the laptop worked well, with no problems whatsoever. After the third month, the group moved to a bigger room- a conference room, which was equipped with an overhead beamer. This is where the problem began…..

Normally the overhead beamer did not have any problems with any laptops used by the company employees and executives. This was claimed and testified by the students having used the beamer before, and all the computers were also running on Windows 7 or 8. In the case of the teacher’s laptop, when connected to the overhead beamer via cable and activated, there was no connection. The laptop was rebooted and reconnected to the beamer. Again, it didn’t work. The ends of the cable were switched and the two devices were reconnected. Again, sela vie. Both devices were shut down for five minutes before being reactivated again. The laptop and the overhead beamer were reconnected and there was a glimmer of hope as the connection was established. Yet two minutes later, it ceased! The teacher’s face becomes redder with rage as he was running behind schedule and he needed the beamer for a pair of video exercises. Desperate, he has one of the students bring in the mobile beamer where he uses the cable from there to hook the laptop up with the overhead beamer! Didn’t work. He then connected the laptop with the mobile beamer, using that cable. And…….

it worked! 🙂

Both the teacher and the students were scratching their heads as to determine the cause of this bad connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer as well as why the connection worked with the mobile one. It was bewitched for some reason. Yet it served as a reminder of a relationship that went awry. No matter how much effort is put in, if a man loves a woman but the feelings are not mutual, one can try everything, but the end result will be either failure or an unhealthy relationship. It can only work if both have something in common and are willing to develop the relationship further. This also applies when a relationship does not work in one environment but works suddenly in a different environment, after a short break.

And while work is underway to determine the cause of the failed connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer, and eventually provide a new cable for the latter, the main idea behind this story is no matter how well-prepared you are for teaching or even a presentation, you can expect something like this to happen, just a much as a relationship going bad. So keep this in mind next time:

PREPARE FOR BEING UNPREPARED!  CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT BEFORE EXECUTING!! MAKE SURE THE LOVE AFFAIR WORKS!!! ❤

Thank you! 😀

Author’s Note: The photo was taken at a different company after a session, where both the beamer and the laptop had a well-established connection. It was not allowed to photograph on the premises of the company where the incident took place. 

five years flfi