Tuesday, 25th April (Cambridge)

1. The next NATESOL online event, Inclusive pronunciation practices making space for everyone in the ELT classroom with Gemma Archer from the University of Strathclyde, is at 10:00 UK time next Saturday, 29th April.

“For many international students of English”, says Gemma, “perceptions of the language and its speakers are still intrinsically tied to outdated and unrealistic notions of prestige native speaker models. This, however, is at odds with modern English which is a global, diverse, and dynamic language, used more by L2 speakers than L1 (Crystal, 2019). It also does not reflect the rich distinct varieties spoken throughout the British isles, which students have to adjust to upon arrival here. So how can we make room for our students, and indeed, our own Englishes in the ELT classroom, moving away from stringent native speaker model replication, and instead towards a goal of clear intelligible speech regardless of the variety?”

Register here: https://forms.gle/qDt513obJokyA5Hc9 PDF of event flyer below.

2. The new issue of EL Gazette has just come out and includes

an interview with Hanan Khalifa from Cambridge University Press & Assessment about the new PISA Foreign Language Assessment Test (three skills only, no writing, and only English) that will launch in 2025

and Linguistics and Grammar – time for a divorce? by Andrew Rossiter, who wishes they’d never got married in the first place! https://www.elgazette.com/elg_archive/ELG2304/mobile/

3. The lawyer Adam Tolley’s recent report into the accusations of bullying against the UK Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, was an extremely carefully calibrated piece of writing which left plenty of space for reading between the lines. Here’s four sample paragraphs: (PDF of full report below.)

Para. 119: “The DPM tends to take a clear view of an issue, whatever it may comprise. This applies across the range of matters with which he deals, from policy decisions to the presentational format of papers. In the context of the investigation, this approach manifested itself in what I considered to be a somewhat absolutist approach in his response to certain points, such as whether a particular conversation had occurred, either at all or in a certain way. His responses were frequently put in ‘black or white’ terms, with no room for nuance even where nuance might reasonably be expected. I did not find this approach persuasive. However, I have in every instance of factual dispute considered what appeared to me to be the inherent probabilities, the evidence as a whole and the overall context before reaching any conclusion.”

Paras 127 & 128: “In the context of the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) Complaint, there was a factual dispute as to whether, following a particular meeting at which the DPM referred, in the context of the work of the civil servants present, to the question of their compliance with the Civil Service Code, Sir Philip (the Permanent Secretary) communicated to the DPM that he should not do this. The DPM denied that there had been any such communication. The DPM suggested that, in view of media reporting of the allegations against him (the DPM), Sir Philip was under pressure to explain what he had done in respect of the allegations. The DPM also questioned why there were no minutes of the discussion.

Sir Philip’s evidence was convincing, and I do not think that he had any good reason to make up such a conversation with a view to protecting himself after the event. None of the details of the FCDO Complaint has been the subject of media reporting and there would therefore have been no reason for Sir Philip to react defensively. Contrary to the DPM’s assertion, I did not regard it as plausible that the meeting should have been minuted or the occasion treated as though the DPM were an employee and Sir Philip the representative of his employer.”

Para. 129: “In the context of the MoJ (Ministry of Justice) Complaints, there was a similar factual dispute between Antonia Romeo (Permanent Secretary) and the DPM as to whether she had on a number of occasions (said to have been 9 March 2022, 14 July 2022 and 27 October 2022), drawn to his attention concerns about his tone and behaviour in interactions with civil servants, as distinct from matters of work pressure and overall departmental morale. Ms Romeo produced notes of these conversations, which I was satisfied were derived from her contemporaneous records. The DPM sought to challenge the reliability of these notes on various grounds. I was not convinced by those challenges and did not consider that Ms Romeo would have had any reason to manufacture or manipulate the content of these notes.”

4. Here’s how Martin Rowson, The Guardian cartoonist, chose to depict Mr Raab’s resignation following the publication of the Tolley Report. It involves toys and a pram. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2023/apr/21/martin-rowson-on-dominic-raabs-resignation-cartoon

What I hadn’t noticed before is that you can access the whole archive of cartoons by opening the full screen version – click on the cartoon – and then use the forward and back arrows that appear on the right to navigate through the archive.

5. And, finally, Arthur Conan Doyle’s own selection of his top ten Sherlock Holmes short stories https://lithub.com/the-12-best-sherlock-holmes-stories-according-to-arthur-conan-doyle/

Here’s number 7, The Five Orange Pips

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Sherlock_Holmes_(1892,_US)/The_Five_Orange_Pips PDF below, just in case that’s easier.

You can also click left and right to read (and listen to) all the other stories as well.

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