Today is World Book Day in the UK. The original World Book Day, held on April 23rd, is a UNESCO initiative to promote reading. Our local version is a charity event specifically to get kids reading. Each child in full time education is given a £1 book voucher. In recent years, a selection of 8 books has been made available for this event. This year’s selection can be found here. If nothing there takes your child’s fancy, the voucher can also be used as £1 off any full priced book at participating bookshops.
Some schools encourage children to dress up as their favourite character from a book. Which character from a kid’s book would you dress up as, if given the chance? My favourite was always Matilda (Roald Dahl)!
If, like me, you’re learning Spanish, then you might want to consider adding this puzzle book to your Christmas list. Wordsearches and crosswords are a great way to test your vocabulary skills. I use crosswords to practise my native English too!
This one is available from Waterstones. If you’re learning a different language, no worries…others are available in Italian, German, French, Swahili, Hindi, Japanese, Pashto, and even Hawaiian!
How many of us haven’t tried a crafty trick whilst playing Scrabble? One player took it to the extreme this week by cheating at the US National Championships. The five day event, held in Orlando, Florida, saw 350 players competing for a $10,000 (£6400) prize. The player was a minor, and thus has not been named. His methods, however, have. In the 24th of 28 rounds, a player who was due to be the next opponent of the boy saw two blank tiles on his side of the table. After the game, the boy was seen dropping the two blank tiles on the floor, in an apparent attempt to use them in the next round. He was questioned, admitted to taking the tiles, and disqualified from the tournament. His previous opponents were then awarded wins.
Cheating in championship Scrabble is not common. According to the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA), there have been five suspensions for cheating since 2008.
John Williams Jr, NASPA’s executive director, said: “It does happen no matter what. People will try to do this. It’s the first time it’s happened in a venue this big though. It’s unfortunate. The Scrabble world is abuzz.”
The incidence of cheating has overshadowed the big news of the tournament; New Zealand native Nigel Richards set two records, as he was crowned winner for the third consecutive year in a row, and this was his fourth win overall.
Dictionary publishers Collins are inviting the public to submit suggestions for inclusion in the dictionary for the first time.
The word selection process is usually closed, and Collins hope that including everyone in the process will make the way the language is recorded more democratic. All submissions will by reviewed by Collins dictionary editors, and approved words will be included in the online edition of the dictionary with the submitter’s name credit published underneath.
Words must prove themselves worthy of inclusion, as the editors look for objective evidence to decide which words deserve to be included, using a 4.5-billion-word database of language called the Collins Corpus. The words in the Corpus are taken from a range of sources of spoken and written English, including newspapers, radio and social media. The more widely used the word, the more chance it has of being published in the dictionary.
Words submitted so far include amazeballs and photobombing. I think we can do better than that! To submit your word and be in with a chance of winning a prize, click here. Let us know in the comments section which word you think should be included!
This week, children across England will be participating in mandatory reading checks. The Year One children, (ages five and six) have been learning to read using the phonics system. The tests are to measure how well the pupils are learning to read using the sounds of each letter and putting them together to form words.
The test will take between 5-10 minutes, and will ask pupils to read 20 real words and 20 made up words, such as ‘terg’ and ‘spron’.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers issued a joint statement, saying:
“The use of made-up words will confuse children for whom English is a second language and those with special educational needs as well as frustrating those who can read already. There are already enormous pressures on teachers to teach to the test, so how long will it be before children are being taught to read made-up words?”
The Government’s phonics-only approach to teaching reading is controversial. Most teachers advocate a balanced mix of methods, including flash cards and the ‘look and say’ method, because not every child learns the same way or at the same speed.
The Queen’s English Society, a group formed in 1972 to publicise the need for good grammar and spelling in written English, have announced the closure of the group, citing disinterest from the public.
The announcement has attracted a lot of mockery from the media. At a time when a lot of people are using text speak as the norm, has the Society chosen to close at the wrong time?
Languages evolve and change, there is no doubt. Currently, with the evolution of technology and social media, certain restrictions on space and characters limit the way we communicate. But does this mean that the use of “good English” is diminishing?
My personal opinion is that there is a need to differentiate the situations and mediums in which the language is used. Where you might not have enough space to write “to” in a text message or Tweet, the substitution of “2″ would be acceptable. On your CV or in a formal letter, however, not so much. Yet it is happening more and more. I also see a lot of people write the way they would speak, rather than in the correct written form – e.g. “I would of…” instead of “I would have…” I have personal experience of witnessing this, seeing a lot of CVs submitted per week at my work. I wouldn’t say that I’m the best at grammar or spelling, nor would I say that I use the “Queen’s English,” but know enough not to use diminutives in a professional scenario.
So, does the closure of the Queen’s English Society even matter? What do you think?
National tourism agency Visit Britain‘s new multi million pound advertisement contains an unfortunate spelling mistake. The typo, which was seen on the New York subway, consisted of the spelling of popular Welsh National Park, the Brecon Beacons, as Breacon Beacons. It’s all too easy to complain about the lack of use of spell check and/or proof reading, but we’ve all done it. I can’t say that I’ve spent £25 million on an ad campaign which features a spelling mistake though.
What’s been your biggest typo? Has it been in a different language? Or maybe you’ve seen a horrible spelling mistake abroad? Please share!
I came across this on Tumblr recently. Although the point being made with regards to English is interesting, it bothered me more that pronounced is spelled incorrectly. Twice!
It’s that time of year again, where we’re all trying to think of fabulous Christmas gifts for family and friends. Don’t worry, I won’t be making these a regular thing all the way through December! I’ve just discovered these magnets which would make a great gift for any language student, and thought I’d share!
These little Magnetic Poetry Kits now come in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Norwegian and Swedish, and are a fun way to practice your writing skills in another language. There’s also a Hebrew alphabet kit, a sign language kit, and a Chinese for Kids kit, but these are a little harder to find.
These are available from Amazon, Eurocosm, and directly from Magnetic Poetry (this is a US site)
I had no idea that the UK had a National Scrabble Championship, but we do, and this year was the 40th anniversary! Wayne Kelly from Warrington beat Gary Oliver from Southampton to win his very first official Scrabble title, having entered in previous years and not reaching the final.
The contestants entered months of heats, with over 300 players battling for a place in the final. The final itself consisted of five matches, the winner being the player who won the most matches out of five. Mr Kelly used the words “caromel,” (meaning to turn into caramel) worth 69 points, and “travails,” worth 74 points, to seal his victory.
Potential contestants need to register with the ABSP (Association for British Scrabble Players) to be eligible for next year’s competition – the prize money is £2000!