Archive for February, 2010

Jobs roundup

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I presume these things are automated, but I couldn’t resist a chuckle on seeing the CHE’s advert for “American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) (**Not in the US).” I know Americans are notorious for being bad at geography, but you wouldn’t think they’d need to be told that we are not talking about, say, Afghanistan, Arkansas. Anyway, for those of you who are clear about the location, the advert is here. On the other hand, if you think that the drawbacks of working in Afghanistan outweigh the benefits (i.e., you’re not an opium addict) but still fancy a year of fun and fundamentalism, you might prefer a position at Prince Sultan University in Saudi.

Fundamentalists of a different streak may be interested in the latest of maybe a thousand adverts placed by LCC International University in This English-medium institution in lovely Lithuania offers “education from an uncompromising Christian worldview,” so be prepared to base your reading comprehension exercises on the Tyndale Bible. Be prepared for some frugal living too, since rumour has it that they don’t actually pay teachers.

Categories: Jobs

EAP conference in Turkey

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The IATEFL ESP SIG in conjunction with Bilkent University School of English Language will be presenting the conference EAP in university settings: teacher and learner competencies on 18th-19th June. Keynote speakers are William Grabe, Fredericka L. Stoller, Ken Hyland, Terry Phillips and Olwyn Alexander.

Categories: Conferences

Hey, hey, APA …

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This week brought two nice surprises from the library. The first was a mail telling me that the book I’d ordered (Higher Education in Virtual Worlds) had arrived; the second was that on my way to pick it up, I managed to grab a copy of the APA Publication Manual off the New Arrivals shelf. Managing to borrow a library copy of the most recent edition of a major style guide is the academic equivalent of getting front-row seats at Superbowl or a box at La Scala: normally these books are either out on loan or in the Reference section (probably in a locked case).

On the other hand, although I need to know about APA style for my job, I’m not a major fan. (I’m more of a Chicago kind of a guy myself.) My skeptical attitude was reinforced when I opened the book at random and found the APA perpetuating two language myths in quick succession.

Neither the highest scorer nor the lowest scorer had any doubt about his or her competence.
Neither the highest scorer nor the lowest scorer had any doubt about their competence.

(2010, p. 79)

The “incorrect” version is perfectly correct; singular “they” is a respectable feature of the English language, and anyone who claims it is ungrammatical is picking a fight with Jane Austen (who while physically frail is not the kind of person you want to get into a grammar fight with). If that’s not enough, check out Mark Liberman’s post in Language Log, “Singular ‘They’: God Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It.” Moreover, the “correct” sentence, while not ungrammatical or illogical, still strikes me as odd.We tend to use “his or her” where the gender of the referent is uncertain, and while we may not know the gender of the highest scorer, I’m sure that (ahem) they do, and the sentence refers to the scorer’s doubts, not ours.

Immediately following this nonsense, we have another case of silly prescriptivism:

The students that completed the task successfully were rewarded.

(2010, p. 80)

They clarify by saying “Use who for human beings and that or which for nonhuman animals and for things.” Of course since this is an imperative and not a declarative sentence, I can’t say the APA are wrong. They can tell people to use any language they like; in fact they could say “Use foo for human beings and foobar for nonhuman animals and for things,” and they still wouldn’t actually be wrong, just weird. But if they are claiming that this is the way English works, then they are wrong, plain and simple: the human/non-human distinction determines the choice of “who” or “which”, not “who” or “that”.

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

Jobs roundup

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Bilkent University in Turkey is recruiting for its School of English language, and offering working scholarships for teachers wishing to do the CELTA, DELTA or Bilkent’s own MA. See  I’ll give this a special plug since I work here: Bilkent is very good in the area of teacher training, so if you’re thinking of working towards one of these qualifications, I’d recommend applying.

Contra Costa Community college: ESL Assistant Prof. (from the Chronicle of Higher Education).

BEO, the Japanese partner of Northern Consortium UK, are advertising for an EAP/ academic skills lecturer (from

Categories: Jobs

The British Library is Falling Down

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

… at least in terms of computing standards, which is not something most academics would get in a huff about, but important nonetheless.

British Library and Microsoft Corrupt the Meaning of “Open Source”
Categories: Linked articles Tags: , ,

Proofreading Spam

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

While reading the latest variation on the Nigerian scam spam (“My name is Mr Kenneth Thoba , an Auditor in one of the top Bank’s in South Africa.”) I noticed that my gaze was drawn inexorably to the language errors (e.g., “Bank’s”). It also occurred to me that if I’m ever stuck for a proof-reading exercise to use in class, I can just open my spam folder. Spammers, bless ’em, manage to come up with exactly the errors that we want to teach our students to avoid.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

CFP: Plagiarism Conference

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From “Practitioners and policy makers in the areas of plagiarism and academic integrity from the international academic community are invited to share their experiences and expertise at the fourth biennial plagiarism conference.” Call for Papers

If you wish to present a paper at this conference, we will be happy to write you one for a suitable fee 😉

Categories: Conferences