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Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching

Letter 1

Dear Editor,

Is the above heading to this letter an eggcorn or a malapropism? The similar sounding word diffidence has replaced the correct word difference. At my university ( Moscow State) they taught us that the term “malapropism” was first coined about sentences like these from Sheridan’s play , “The Rivals”:

He is as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile ( alligator)
He is the very pineapple of politeness ( pinnacle)

Wikipedia now tells us that there is a new term “eggcorns” ( acorn), lexical replacements of archaic or half-understood words. Here are a few:

Baited breath
A nominal egg
Deformation of character
low and behold
he doesn’t mix his words
bated breath
an arm and a leg ( e.g. I paid an arm and a leg for it)
defamation of character
all intents and purposes
lo and behold
he doesn’t mince his words
have e.g.: I should of done it

Can one of your readers, with a better grasp of linguistics than mine, please explain the diffidence between the terms “eggcorn” and malapropism?

Is this linguistic shiftiness confined to English or does it happen in other languages too?

Yours differently, whoops, diffidently,

Alexei Gregorevich Nabakov, Sochi, Russia

Letter 2

Hi Hania,


Susan Holden was recently with us in Northeast Brazil, first at the biennial BRAZ-TESOL Convention immediately followed by a Conference for Northeast Culturas, the so-called ACINE Conference. I was coordinator of the Academic Committe for ACINE and invited Susan, whom I had met only once previously, to chair a round table with some of our other plenary and guest speakers on their thoughts on advising teachers how to go about publishing articles about classroom practice.

Susan graciously responded very positively to my suggestion. In fact, almost all our plenary speakers joined in and we had a truly fascinating session. Ken Wilson, Jeff Stranks, Angi Malderez and Jack Scholes were all present. They argued with each other and told each other off. Still, out of the mayhem, I am exaggerating, I think everyone got a very good idea of what is required: a bit of passion; consideration of the best vehicle; who the main intended audience is; don’t pass up minor or local publications, etc. The downside was that attendance by teachers was poor but I do think that there is a place for round tables precisely on this theme at other events all over the world. We were probably lucky that the plenary folks got on so well with each other - the banter and argument was akin to that associated with Question Time rather than more serious back-biting or professional point-scoring.

Grande abraço

Roddy Kay

Letter 3

Hello Hania,

Thanks for your message about the latest HLT, which I enjoy receiving.

It's now nearly ten years since I gave my two-week summer course on using the internet with students!

I've continued in ELT along with developing other interests such as photography, poetry and painting. I've also continued my interest in using the internet in English language teaching and I'm always glad to see new resources on this topic.

I'm a very practical teacher who loves using 'real' web sites and amazing new possibilities with students and I often give talks on this subject in France.

I'm afraid I found the article 'The Implementation of Multimedia and Hypermedia in Foreign Language Teaching' a bit heavy going, as theoretical stuff isn't really my cup of tea, but that's just me! (…)

All the best,

Letter 4

Hi Hanna,

The current issue of HLT is marvellous in its breath and depth with articles ranging from the brilliance of Tandy Taylor as a wordsmith thru to the amazing Pakistani English of Muhammed Iqbal......What an issue!

HLT does not have the rather homogenised feel of so many EFL publications.

Tosey's NLP article will give me a new centrepiece focus when working in UK Univ lang Centres on EAP writing. Directly relevant to my on-going work in Unis of Bangor, Cardiff and Stirling.

The Chinese TPR article is really useful for when I next train folk who teach classes of 40 -100. I could use it in Cosenza Economics Faculty.

For me these are not just interesting, mind-broadening articles.... they are professional tools that widen and deepen my repertoire. At best I go to HLT not for inspiration but for precisely calibrated tools for different jobs I have to do.

A couple of comments: I think that HLT is weak on yr editorial you link to given issues of the mag in the past but not to the precise articles you are referring to.

In the LETTER column ( ed. HLT Oct/Nov issue 2008) I should be able to read the October comment on Bress's BE FAIR article and click back to the original Bress piece and to other comments on it in previous issues.

This is not the clumsy print medium. There is room for offering the reader elegant immediacy, which she anyway expects in this medium.

Tosey uses NLP modelling with univ sts' writing - in My students self-correction techniques in writing tasks Ana Robles does the same, but in the context of kids of 14, in HLT No 1 issue 4 June 99. It would be good to establish a two way link between these two articles as they are brother and sister. This help readers thru the maze that our archive is becoming.

I can hear you exploding: "How am I meant to know all the stuff from before 2006?" Agreed you can't hold all that in your head. All I am suggesting is that in case like this one it is worth asking Anton to establish the two way link once you have a clear reference.

Sezgi Yalin, like Tandy Taylor, is a good writer and texts by such people are a relief in the general writing mediocrity of our EFL community. Writers with good keyboards like Stevick and Morgan are rare. Most of us are, at best, journalists. Yeah, I really liked the piece on Tibet and the piece on the Chinese officer staring upwards out of the window.

Why does the article on Tibet lead me to the EXPERT TEACHER course? ( …)
Why did you put the good article on Expats in China under resourse books preview.......I don't follow the logic of this. Why not under Short articles?

Eva Homolova on listening was also a quite interesting piece; there was a freshness to the writing


ps: I will read the rest of HLT tomorrow but will leave you in peace. Overall this is very good issue from the point of view of this one reader.


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