Средний человек

Кто он — среднестатистический человек? Он не слишком-то интересный, ординарный, совсем обыкновенный. Его даже можно назвать безликим — но не безымянным. В каждой стране есть своё собственное имя для типичного парня, который может не обладать яркими качествами, но по-прежнему остаётся «своим». У нас это Вася Пупкин, как же зовут Васю Пупкина в других странах?

  1. Германия: Отто Нормалвербраухер (Otto Normalverbraucher)

Отто «Обычный потребитель» или «Обыватель».

  1. Китай: Чжан Сань (Zhang San)

Переводится как Чжан Третий. Иногда появляется в компании с Ли Си (Li Si) (Ли Четвёртым) и Ваном Ву (Wang Wu) (Ваном Пятым).

  1. Дания: Мортен Менигманд (Morten Menigmand)

Мортен Обыватель.

  1. Австралия: Фред Нёрк (Fred Nurk)

Фред-середнячок. А что, нормально имя звучит.

  1. США: Обычный Джо (Average Joe), Джон Доу (John Doe)

Первый вариант в комментарии не нуждается, а второй часто можно встретить в фильмах и сериалах про американских полицейских.

  1. Финляндия: Матти Мейкалайнен (Matti Meikäläinen)

«Мейкалайнен» похоже на обыкновенную финскую фамилию, но это слово также означает «один из нас».

  1. Швеция: Медельсвенссон (Medelsvensson)

Просто средний швед.

  1. Франция: Месьё Ту-ль-Мон (Monsieur Tout Le Monde)

Господин Обыватель. Иногда ещё говорят — Жан Дюпон (Jean Dupont).

  1. Великобритания и Новая Зеландия: Джо Блоггс (Joe Bloggs)

Просто среднестатистический парень. Иногда не Джо, а Фред (Fred).

  1. Италия: Марио Росси (Mario Rossi)

В Италии просто используют распространённое имя.

  1. Латинская Америка: Хуан Перес (Juan Perez)

Так называют среднего человека в испаноязычных странах Центральной и Южной Америки.


How do students learn vocabulary?

“How can I remember it all?”

“I write down the words but never remember them”

How often have you heard this? A hundred, a thousand, tens of thousands of times? What do you say to your students? What’s the answer?

Well, the fact is, there isn’t one. There are, however, a few common sense principles that we can use. The most obvious, of course, is “If you don’t write something down, you’re more likely to forget it in the long-term”. So to those students who refuse to write anything down, as teachers we should explain (sometimes forcefully if we need to) that they are making life much more difficult for themselves, and will be adding months and years to the process of achieving the level that they wish.

There is, however, a point to be made here, isn’t there? Even those students who write everything down struggle to remember the words you wanted to teach in class. So clearly, just writing down is not enough. We should consider many different factors as teachers when we ‘teach’ vocabulary.

The first, and perhaps the most poignant is what does it mean to ‘know’ a word? We should consider:

  1. The meaning
  2. Its context
  3. Register
  4. Its pronunciation
  5. Is it passive or active?
  6. Spelling
  7. It’s co-text (collocations and appearances in phrases)

This list is simply to exhaustive to discuss in detail here, however what we will look at is some good general principles we can apply to the classroom and some theory regarding how words are stored.

Regarding the list above, and the ‘4 skills’, which are unfortunately considered separate by many, there is a good principle of “hear, read, speak, write” that can be applied to English (furthered by the fact that English spelling has very little bearing on the pronunciation of an item).  If we refer to the distinction between ‘language learning’ (conscious) and language acquisition (unconscious), many pieces of research have highlighted the primacy of listening as input. The reason for this is that it is not only what is listened to that influences the unconscious acquisitional process, but also what is heard. Some experiments have even suggested that the focus on student output is given undue emphasis, and suggest that language can be learnt with a greater emphasis on input, particularly at early stages. Doesn’t that fly in the face of much of what is sermonized by the vast majority of Communicative Language Teaching dogmatists! As suggested by Krashen’s input model, carefully selected reading and listening input (at a level just above the students full comprehension) can be used to not only assist acquisition, but build confidence and give learners the opportunity to ‘manage’ their language. So, a useful order:

  1. Hear – Through a listening activity and drilling
  2. Read – See the text written in context.
  3. Write – Record the vocabulary.

5 guiding principles of vocabulary learning

  1. The principle of cognitive depth

“The more one manipulates, thinks about, and uses mental information, the more likely it is that one will retain that information. In the case of vocabulary, the more one engages with a word (deeper processing), the more likely the word will be remembered for later use” (Schmitt 2000: 120)

This might seem like common sense, but it is surprising how much words are cast aside in some language learning classrooms and coursebooks.

So what does this mean? Well, anything! It can be sorting, identifying, classifying, matching etc. Try to ensure your activities involve some kind of mental process, rather than just repeat and record.

  1. The principle of associations

“The human lexicon is believed to be a network of associations, a web-like structure of interconnected links. When students are asked to manipulate words, relate them to other words and to their own experiences, and then to justify their choices, these word associations are reinforced” (Sökmen 1997: 241-2).

This really needs little explanation. Words with associations are remembered better. This argument suggests a good amount of categorizing and ordering in terms of hyponyms is a successful approach to aiding recall and acquisition.

  1. The principle of Multiple Encounters

“Due to the incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition, repeated exposures are necessary to consolidate a new word in the learner’s mind” (Schmitt & Carter 2000: 4)

Again, another seemingly common sense proposition, but one that I feel is most ignored by teachers. Language learning is a slow, sometimes frustrating process, and most importantly not linear in any sense! As such, we should be preparing lessons that not only introduce new vocabulary but those that give the learners the chance to meet familiar words again, in new contexts and forms. This principle also suggests that testing, especially in an informal manner is of great importance.

  1. The principle of Re-Contextualisation

“When words are met in reading and listening or used in speaking and writing, the generativeness of the context will influence learning. That is, if the words occur in new sentence contexts in the reading text, learning will be helped. Similarly, having to use the word to say new things will add to learning”  (Nation 2001: 80).

The importance of this is clear, having students use vocabulary items in different context (carefully chosen by the teacher, of course) will aid acquisition. Metaphor here could play an important role. For example, is there a metaphor between gambling and diplomacy?

Do you think there will be a war?

We can’t risk war.

The stakes are too high.

There’s too much to lose.

They’re just bluffing

We’ve got a weak hand.

  1. The principle of Retrieval

“The act of successfully recalling an item increases the chance that the item will be remembered. It appears that the retrieval route to that item is in some way strengthened by being successfully used” (Baddeley 1997: 112).

I’ve met some teachers who seem to get carried away with the idea that tasks should be challenging. Of course, they should be challenging, but not too difficult! We do want the students to recall these words, don’t we? We shouldn’t be putting obstacles in their way to successful completion of a task. I think this is key here. By preparing activities that aren’t very difficult, but in some way challenging (some kind of memory game maybe?), we will help item retrieval. Retrieval = further retrieval.

Can you think of any tasks that could be used according to each of these five principles?


A final word about these principles. Let us remember that as teachers it is our responsibility to provide challenging and engaging tasks that help the students on their long journey. This, however, should not detract from student responsibility. The student also has a responsibility to write things down, to do homework, and to practice English regularly.

The Byrds — Turn! Turn! Turn! — song & exercises

«Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)» — often abbreviated to «Turn! Turn! Turn!» — is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as «To Everything There Is a Season» on The Limeliters‘ album Folk Matinee and then some months later on Seeger’s ownThe Bitter and the Sweet.

Below are a few exercises connected with this song.

  1. Listen to the song. Do you like it? What do you think is the style of the song?
  2. Before you listen again, read the lyrics (you will fill in the gaps later). Do you know what the words in bold mean? You may check yourself with the help of an online dictionary, for example, Cambridge Learner Dictionary.

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be ____, a time to die
A time to _____, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to _____, a time to weep

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build _____, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of _____
A time of war, a time of _____
A time you _____ embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to _____
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

  1. Now listen to the song again and fill in the gaps (you can find the complete lyrics here).
  2. Match the words on the right with prepositions and adverbs they are used with on the left.
    • Purpose
    • Cast
    • Gather
    • Refrain
    • Gain
    • Sew
    • Of
    • About
    • On
    • For
    • Away
    • Together
    • From
    • To
    • By
    • Now fill in the gaps in these sentences:The Economist must refrain ________ doing this dirty work like British colonialists. Please refrain ____________ smoking in this area.
      When the Apple iPad was released, many believed there was no purpose ______________ the gadget. Why did people need a huge device that was identical to their mobile phone? It didn’t even make phone calls!
      The American economy saw a gain _____________ 14 cents last week and 20 cents a week before that, a positive for Mr Obama.
      I try to cast ________ such thoughts, but still from time to time I get an impression that we shouldn’t do this job.
      She will use scraps of material and sew them ________ into different things.
      They will gather ________ in the open air, singing, dancing, and telling stories.Select the following black part to see the answers: from / from / for / of / away / together / together
    • Write your own sentences with these word combinations.
  3. Answer the questions:
    What is the main idea behind the song? Do you agree with it?
    Do you know any other songs that carry the same message? Do you like any of them?
    Can the message of this song be applied to the current situation in the world?
  4. Now imagine you are taking part in the president elections in your country. Write 3-5 election campaign promises using «(It’s) time to …» stucture, e.g. now is a time to crack down on crime.

If you want to improve your English, you can also have both online and offline lessons in Accent Language Center.

Some and any

We tend to think that we use some in positive sentences and any in negative sentences and in questions, right? Well, that’s not strictly correct. This “rule” is only the most common use of “some” and “any”.

Look at these sentences, which are correct?

I like some newspapers

I don’t like some newspapers

I like any newspapers

I don’t like any newspapers

That’s right, all of them! So what do “some” and “any” really mean? Well the difference is meaning, not grammar.

Let’s take our sentences about the newspapers. Let’s imagine that this chart represents all of the newspapers in the world.

blue circle

The newspapers I like are in blue

I like any newspaper
I like any newspaper
I like some newspapers
I like some newspapers
I don't like some newspapers
I don’t like some newspapers
I don't like any newspapers
I don’t like any newspapers

So, we can see that some divides something into parts, but any is about all or none.

Аукцион ошибок

Цель: работа над ошибками

Необходимые материалы: типичные ошибки группы или типичные для текущего уровня; напечатанные деньги.

Уровень: любой

Процедура:  Каждому студенту выдаётся определённая сумма импровизированных денег. Затем преподаватель зачитывает предложение с ошибкой и называет её минимальную стоимость, а каждый из участников аукциона может увеличивать её настолько, насколько считает нужным. Предложивший наивысшую цену получает право найти ошибку и назвать правильный вариант. Если его версия и в самом деле оказывается верной, он сохраняет свои деньги и получает в свою «собственность» исправленную им ошибку. В противном случае, когда студент не может назвать действительно правильный вариант, он теряет свои деньги. Побеждает тот, кто смог «купить» наибольшее число ошибок.

Игру можно проводить в групповом формате, выдавая одну сумму на группу студентов и давая им возможность обсудить варианты исправления предложений с партнёрами по команде.

Relay Game

Цель: отработка лексических и грамматических конструкций.

Необходимые материалы: не требуются.

Уровень: любой

Подготовка: преподаватель делит доску на две части и на обеих пишет целевую конструкцию, к примеру, ________ allow(s) us to ________, показывает, что студентам будет необходимо заполнить пропуски в предложении, чтобы получилось что-то вроде: Internet allows us to communicate quickly. После этого класс делится на две команды, которые приглашаются к доске. Участники команд выстраиваются в линию, первый студент, написав свой вариант, передаёт маркер назад следующим товарищам. Побеждает та команда, которая первой напишет 10 предложений. Затем преподаватель может обратить внимание студентов на примеры удачного или не совсем удачного использования словосочетаний и грамматических правил.

В случае индивидуальных занятий процедура может оставаться такой же, только без элемента соревновательности.

Square Game

Цель: повторение изученной лексики.

Необходимые материалы: доска, текст с пронумерованными словами.

Уровень: любой

Подготовка: преподаватель выбирает текст длиной в несколько предложений — может быть, уже хорошо знакомый группе с предыдущих занятий — и нумерует слова в нём, например:




















have paddle,

























Во время занятия преподаватель рисует такую же, но пустую нумерованную таблицу на доске:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

преподаватель делит студентов на две группы, затем объявляет, что сейчас он дважды прочтёт короткий текст, во время чтения студентам не нужно ничего не записывать, а достаточно просто расслабиться и слушать (или же, в зависимости от группы, можно наоборот изначально попросить студентов запомнить как можно больше). После того, как класс дважды прослушал текст, преподаватель предлагает студентам вспомнить как можно больше слов, работая в группах. Когда обсуждение завершено, преподаватель поочерёдно просит каждую группу назвать по одному слову из текста и вписывает их в соответствующие им по номерам ячейки таблицы на доске.
Восстановление предложений таким образом способствует направлению внимания учащихся не только на отдельные слова, но и неизбежно на словосочетания: студент может вспомнить слово side и затем будет пытаться понять, какое именно слово шло рядом с ним и т.д.