Sunday, 21 March 2010

Abstract of Presentation at IATEFL conference in Harrogate 7-11th April

An easier approach? - Basic English revisited

Ian Paul (English Language Centre, York)

Earlier last century, attempts were made to simplify English and produce a basic vocabulary. The most famous of these attempts were 'Basic English' and the closely allied 'General Service List'.

This poster argues the rationale for devising a modern, 21st Century replacement for the list. The many sound reasons, pedagogical and commercial, for adopting such a move will be illustrated.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The Decision - Please comment on this, I value your opinions.

Here it is - my final assessed creative writing exercise. Please let me know what you think of it. Don't hold back, I have broad shoulders.

Francesca Peterson was thirty-eight years old the day she made her decision. Thirty-eight years of life, and now, a day to change all that had gone before. All the heartache, so many broken hearts along the way. The debt; credit really had been much too easy to obtain. The daily drudgery that was her work, so many wrong decisions taken there too. Today would change all that.

She had thought about this day for a considerable time now, how she would feel, would it hurt? At last, on the bridge now, she looked down to the water, slowly churning its way to the sea; a pretty blue, almost like duck eggs; glacial melt-water she presumed. Would she feel the cold? Would other thoughts steal her mind? Soon she’d find out.

The bridge was high, a wonder of engineering; a product of that wandering band of technical superiority the Scottish civil engineer. It had been built one hundred and twenty-five years ago to span a gorge. The bridge was of the suspension variety, fairly elegant as far as bridges go; the institutional green paint, so different a shade to the surrounding foliage, provided a visual contrast to the blue water below, so far below.

Francesca knew that soon, very soon, she’d have to take her decision. A myriad of thoughts coursed through her brain, would her bra keep her modesty? She wanted to be decent, afterwards – when they fished her out of that cold, blue water so far below. It really was a long way down, she panicked.

She had always been scared, to the point of phobia, of height. She had joked with friends it wasn’t so much the falling that frightened her, rather the landing. She’d find out now how landings felt. Or here, high above the water, should it be waterings? Would the shock of impact kill her, would it be by drowning? Maybe she’d be dead from shock, long before she hit that cold, oh so blue water. She thought of the word ‘long’. She was conscious of using it - ‘long before’. How long? She tried to recall physics lessons, what was the velocity, or was it acceleration, of a falling body? Francesca realized she had no idea of even where to start to calculate how ‘long’ before she hit the icy, churning water below. She added yet another shortcoming to her life of dissatisfaction.

She didn’t know why she had chosen to jump; she only knew it had to be this bridge, this elegant, old bridge: above this particular, cold, blue ribbon of meandering melt-water in this particular gorge. She thought it was as pretty a place as any to do it.

She thought of her mother, far away in England, what would she say if she could see her only child perched high above the water waiting to jump? She wished her mother was there, to hold onto, to comfort her. Had mum ever thought of doing this, she mused, would she support me in my decision or try and talk me out of it?

Then it was time; time to jump. It was easier than she had imagined, just a gentle rolling forward on the balls of her feet, too late for any more thoughts; it was done. Francesca Peterson jumped off the Kawerau Bridge, New Zealand, home of the bungee jump.