Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Reading Into It

Posted on September 7th, 2013by Melanie
In Spelling, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

French directionsWhen we think of learning languages, we tend to mean speaking them, getting to know the basics first so that we can ‘get by’ with the little that we know, then gradually increasing our knowledge until we eventually reach a point of fluency. When people look enviously at others and say that they wished they could speak another language like that, or have the ability to switch effortlessly between two languages, they are ultimately referring to the ability to speak the language.

However, learning languages doesn´t just involve speech. It goes without saying that you also have to be able to listen to and understand it when it´s being spoken to you, but the ability to read and write it mustn´t be forgotten or dismissed.

When travelling abroad, a basic knowledge of the language is helpful for simple tasks, such as reading shop signs, understanding menus when you´re ordering food in restaurants,  being able to follow road signs and directions, and understanding how to buy and validate a ticket for the correct route at a train station. These are just some of the everyday things we deal with without thinking, but being able to read and understand the basics can go a long way in a foreign country.

Students often find the reading and writing aspects of learning languages daunting, but with the right teacher and the correct tuition, there really is no need to be worried. Once you´ve grasped the basics, you´ll find that the words will just logically fall into place. So take the plunge and enrol in some language classes; you´ll be word perfect before you know it!

Expressive dictionary

Posted on August 28th, 2012by Michelle
In Pronunciation, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

One of the things I love about the English language is that it’s so expressive. By changing your tone you can make words sound very different.

But how can you do this when you’re writing the words rather than speaking them? The Sound-Word Index is here to help!

Two Royal College of Art graduates came up with the idea, and the site is now a handy reference for those trying to interpret digital meaning. An example:

/!!!!!/ It can mean: Shock or really enthusiastic. For example: ‘I have a new boyfriend!!!!!’

You can submit your own words through the website.

The need for speed

Posted on June 12th, 2012by Michelle
In English, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

How fast can you go? Reading, I mean – how quickly can you scan those words?

I think I’m a pretty fast reader – I finished the final Harry Potter in about 10 hours – but according to this test, I’m ranked just above an “average college student”! At 512 words per minute, that apparently makes me 105% faster than the American national average. Which I suppose isn’t too shabby!

It’s not all about how fast you are though – comprehension matters. So in Spanish I’d probably be well below the national average. What about you?

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

Google Translate updated

Posted on December 28th, 2011by Michelle
In Chinese, Japanese, Translation, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Google Translate recently got a fantastic new update: the ability to recognise handwriting!

Translate can now recognise written words in seven different languages, including English, Italian and German. This is great if you have an old-school pen pal who writes you letters rather than emails, or if you can’t quite figure out what the waiter wrote on your receipt.

Possibly the best part of this news though, is for Chinese and Japanese language learners, who can now use the app for characters that are not usually found on English keyboards. Perhaps it can also be used for checking that you are creating characters correctly when practicing your written language skills.

Can anyone think of other language learning uses for this new function?

(Source: Android Police)

Dickens on the BBC

Posted on December 18th, 2011by Michelle
In Culture, English, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Love Dickens? Then the BBC is running a season of shows just for you!

To celebrate the bicentenary of the author’s birth, ‘Dickens on the BBC’ is a series of documentary, drama, and discussion programmes on TV and radio. The season started with a reading from Claire Tomalin’s new biography Charles Dickens: A life on Radio 4 (you can hear it using the Listen again service).

An adaptation of Great Expectations, starring Ray Winstone and Gillian Anderson will be shown over Christmas. Commissioning Arts Editor Mark Bell said:

Dickens on the BBC examines the many aspects of the author as performer, social commentator, observational journalist, husband, story-teller, Christmas cheerleader and contradictory family man, and the new adaptations of his novels show his work to be as vital as it ever was.” (Source: BBC)

Does German handwriting need simplifying?

Posted on June 30th, 2011by Michelle
In German, Words, Writing | 1 Comment »

German schoolteachers have started a campaign to abolish the teaching of joined-up handwriting, according to a report in the Guardian.

“Die Schreibschrift” is the German name for the handwriting style pupils have to learn before they leave primary school, at around 10 years old. It is based on Latin script, and the current form used is called “Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift” (easier model script). The teachers’ union argues that it is an outdated way of writing and a waste of time for pupils, who first have to learn printed letters, then how to join them up.

There is opposition to the idea, however, with the regional head of the Society for German Language in Hamburg, Dr Hans Kaufman, arguing:

“Writing is a cultural technique used to quickly put down thoughts. Joined-up handwriting trains fine motor skills, develops [a sense for] aesthetics. An apparently easier script also simplifies thoughts. I would mourn the loss of a piece of our writing culture.”

Apart from the argument about loss of culture, others argue that letting children print script will slow down writing speed (think about the time it takes to write individual letters rather than a joined-up word) and decrease legibility.

What do you think? Would you prefer not to have learned joined-up handwriting in school?