Academic writing: why the rigour


Here is a very easy-to-read and accessible article about academic writing and why it’s not so easy to read (or write). If you have ever wondered how to convince your learners that academic essays should not be fun, this little piece of writing is just the thing: in the true spirit of popularising dry science, Gordon Rugg takes the reader back to the story of Mesmer (as in ‘mesmerising’) story and explains how Mesmer’s non-academic but flashy claims failed to make him the father of clinical hypnosis. The author also doesn’t forget about the traditional role of terms in achieving clarity and brevity, and gives a bit of teaching advice – good stuff.

Klingon the easy way


Well, since I’ve fallen into another Internet rabbit hole and since Star Trek is almost mainstream nowadays, I might as well share this amazing video course of Klingon with you. It’s the best one I’ve seen, and my post is not a New Year joke. Yes, it’s an artificial language invented just for the Star Trek franchise, but it can also be useful for English language teachers.

The first video has a pronunciation guide, which I’m actually going to use to show off to my students in the breaks. (I don’t think many of them will appreciate the video as it is, so it requires a bit of preparation on the teacher’s side.) There’s also a handy downloadable pdf.

What’s the benefit? It’s educational, it’s steeped in pop culture and so can be really enjoyable and low-stress. Moreover, it contrasts English pronunciation with Slavic languages as well as German, and it just might help you reach the more obstinate ears and demonstrate the difference between /kh/ and /h/ and the value of glottal stops.


Linguistics with laughter


It’s easy to fall into an Internet rabbit hole on holidays, isn’t it? But look what I’ve found: an absolute gem of a web zine for linguists and the linguistically-minded called Speculative Grammarian. Between their News Bites (/nuz baɪts/) to rather horrible puns in ‘reasons not to study linguistics’ (Juθt don’t θtudy liθpθ; theðe thingð are θyθtematically impoθible) or the exploits of the Great Predicato, I haven’t been able to stop laughing.

And of course I’m still reading the poems. What do you think about this one?

There once was a linguist from Mordor,
Whose vast minions obeyed every order,
So their lines never crossed
When their foes they’d accost,
And each spear held a hidden recorder.
—Morris Swadesh III

That said, I wouldn’t recommend taking any of it to the classroom unless you’re teaching at linguistic university!