Language Articles

There are some phrases we hear often in English that just don’t mean what they say.  For example, my daughter comes into the kitchen. ‘There’s nothing on the telly. I’m bored to death.’ She obviously isn’t dead.

She is walking talking, making tea, eating a biscuit – she never gets bored of chocolate biscuits. Her  words though serve to emphasise just how very bored she is.  She could have said ‘Bored stiff’ – dead bodies stiffen after all.

Read more: Saying it how it is - Language Article

I used to learn French by leaving lists all over the place, even on the bathroom tiles. I tried making lists on particular topics – sport, names of plants, adverbs, the weather. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. Then my sister moved to Belgium and invited me for an extended stay. We didn’t do many ‘touristy’ things, but ordinary family things – the supermarket, buying children’s shoes, going to the dry cleaners and making a complaint and all the rest. How my French flourished! The fact is, I was learning in context.

Read more: Meaningful learning - Language Article


We use codes all the time:  Right now your computer is reading and decoding machine code. And you probably use codes, when you're texting on the phone or the internet, that is using a code. Understanding  that a toddler who says ‘Wink’ is actually asking for a drink of milk  - that is decoding of a sort. We even have dress codes, and the way we dress can tell someone who can read the language a lot. Here in multi-cultural Britain   we can often tell someone’s religion , place of origin or sporting affiliations  by the way they dress – from a a football fan’s tee shirt, to whether a Muslim woman is covered from head to foot, or the brightly dyed cloths of African nationals. In fact, if we see someone these days dressed in a suit and tie, he is likely to be going to a wedding, going to a funeral, or going to try to convert you to his religion, unless he is on business that is. And believe it or not some church minister’s even wear jeans these days  - and not just the young ones.  Dress codes can mean inclusion, whether it is a school uniform or wearing a chef’s tall hat in a professional kitchen. I heard on the radio today about a gang in London who wear just one glove as a sign of membership.
Read more: Codes - Language Article