Thursday, 26 January 2017

Vocabulary Learning - Warm-Up Exercises

This is a warm-up exercise. Test your word power!

How many words start with "T" and finish with "R" ?

(You can find the answers here)

Perhaps a wide vocabulary is one part of intelligence? Intelligence takes many forms: understanding and applying rules, ability to generate patterns, lateral thinking, inter-personal, intra-personal etc. Granted: word skills are certainly not a test of emotional stability or spiritual values or ethical awareness.

Use this exercise in pairs — as a group exercise — for the best results. Ideally use this game as a warm-up exercise at the start of a class.

You can use a whiteboard, or just practise as an oral/aural activity.

It can be time-limited. Try 1, 3, 10 or 15 minutes, and compare results.

Actually, it's most effective as a collaborative social media game that might help to bring less frequently used words to the surface.

When I posted this verbal mind-game on Facebook it went viral, with lots of people participating. It was also a self-policing game that tended to be supportive and inclusive as it combined individuals of different ages, background, and ability.

There are over 300 correct answers if you are playing this game in English.

As a follow-up activity ask students to create a story using at least one of the words they found in each sentence. This works best with an element of absurdity, humour, or surrealism.

You can also use the words as a rhyme scheme for a poem.

Alternatively, employ the words that students have listed in an oral Q&A format to develop conversational skills.

For the warm up above there are over 700 English words. Answers here.

Research Interests:

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Tate values and Community theory

I was delighted to read that Maria Balshaw has been appointed as the new director of the UK's most famous art galleries: the Tate .

I had the pleasure of working alongside Dr Maria Balshaw at “Nene” or “University College” in the late 1990s, which was  an immensely exciting time to be a Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies. 

The undergraduate course was very ambitious in terms of its academic complexity and its diversity of ideas about the relationship between Theory, the Arts, and Society. 

As collaborators in an innovative institution we felt liberated to take risks and to embrace creative challenges within the “Combined Honours” degree programme. At the same time, tutors such as Maria played an influential personal and academic support role with students who were sometimes surprised to find that they had been fortunate to have been awarded an opportunity to study for a degree. 

As a tutor, Maria inspired students to have the confidence to explore representations of race, gender and sexuality and to challenge media stereotypes.

Subsequently Maria moved away and established a successful career in the community and public arts field. But Maria was not a stranger to Northampton. By 2007 we were establishing the practice of cultural regeneration and social enterprise at the centre of the core values of the University. At this time we established the Institute of Urban Affairs and I was appointed as the first ever Professor in Community Regeneration and the Arts.

Although professionally in high demand, Maria kindly agreed to participate in our programme of external speakers who were exploring the transformative potential of the arts. Maria delivered a public lecture which was a memorable inspiration to a new generation of staff and students who were starting on their life journey through creative ideas and professional work.

As Maria takes up her prestigious post as Director of the Tate she will undoubtedly continue to stimulate debate and provoke deeper and wider engagement with the role of the arts in society. Anyone who shares in those values will be delighted to celebrate Maria’s new position at the centre of British life and international artistic endeavour.

Dr Ian McCormick (Staff, University of Northampton, 1994-2009)