The biggest language exhibition in the UK is about to open – thelanguageshow.co.uk - and in advance there has been plenty of discussion in the press about the value of having a languages degree. As you might know the numebrs of school children in the UK studying foreign languages has continued to drop year on year since the mid 90s and several university departments are threatened with closure. Ironically this is at the same time as a change to the governments curriculum ideals are now making it virtually compulsory to study a foreign language if you want to get the English Baccalaurate (a qualification awarded at age 16) and so there might even be an increase in teaching jobs for modern langauge teachers. Whatever happens in schools emplopyers still seem to value graduates with language degrees – or certainly those who can use a foreign language. The University of Southampton has started to collect reasons for learnign languages and so far has 700. You can find them on this link – http://www.llas.ac.uk/700reasons and then search thorugh the various reasons. One of the biggest sections is on employability and there you will find such reasons as: Companies which buy and sell food products all over the world need people with the ability to speak other languages and a knowledge and understanding of other lifestyles and The ability to function in a new linguistic cultural environment is a skill highly prized by international employers, many of whom will not consider graduates without experience of living and working outside their native land. Interestingly each reason is referenced so you will be able to see where the evidence for the claim has come from. Even with some of the more unusual claims you can at least look at some evidence – for example with the idea that it is good for your health, “Learning a second language “boosts” brain power, scientists believe” Reference: BBC (2004) (citing research from University College, London). Whatever is true you will certainly find that studying a language at UIC in London is going to improve at least one aspect of your life!
Archive for October, 2011
We have previously commented on the way English has changed over the years, new words and phrases going in and out of fashion and how some of these have found their way into acceptable standard English. For example ‘innit’ is now official (well it is in the Oxford English Dictionary) as an acceptable form of ‘isn’t it’. The Chief Political commentator of the Independent has been waging his own war on the overuse of some phrases and has established a list of phrases he’d like to see banned – ‘The list of prohibited cliches’ A cliché is a phrase which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning and it then becomes a stereotype. These kinds of phrases are loved by politicians and it is their overuse that can occasionally (maybe regularly) make politicians sound insincere. So what are on the banned list of the most overused and clichéd phrases? Here are some of the ones you might have come across. Don’t forget that if you’re at UIC studying English you’ll have plenty of opportunities to study such language and hopefully to learn to use language in a more interesting way than many of our political leaders!
Don’t use ….
- Key (as an adjective) for example Keynote speech
- End of.
- In any way shape or form
- Action used as a verb – for example ‘to action a plan’
- Quantam leap – except to mean the change of state of an electron
- A no-brainer
- Does what it says on the tin.
- It’s in his/her/their DNA
You can see the full list at http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/06/14/the-banned-list-top-100/
And what are you supposed to do – how about these guidelines for using English properly and effectively (from one of our greatest writers – George Orwell)
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
but FINALLY ……. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.