January 2016: booking available

cropped-dsc_0087.jpgI am now available for bookings from January 2016, if you’re interested in either one-to-one, group or online private lessons please get in touch.

Check out the relevant tabs above for more info or message me directly.

Degree deceit: does it pay to lie on your CV?

With around a third of jobseekers embellishing qualifications to land a role, we look at whether graduates should take the risk
• Four CV templates for every stage of your career
• How to write an outstanding CV profile

Every summer, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) surveys students and graduates about degree fraud. The annual results are pretty consistent – about a third of people embellish or exaggerate their academic qualifications when applying for jobs. It’s also consistent when matched with other surveys in the UK and in other countries.

This is old news, you say. But when you really think about it, one third is a shocking figure. Look around your office. Can you pick out that third from the colleagues around you? Let’s not beat about the bush: it’s lying, it’s fraud – and what’s more, it’s illegal.

Recently in Manchester, Wade Jordan was jailed for three years for fraud and perverting the course of justice. Jordan landed an HR role at biotechnology firm, Qiagen’s, Manchester office by claiming he had an MA in human resource management from Manchester Metropolitan University. He went on to swindle almost £50,000 in fraudulent expense claims between 2010 and 2013. This is no honest candidate, just trying to get ahead.

The prevailing view seems to be that it’s OK to get a little creative with your CV if you can actually do the job. Why should you be discounted because your skills and qualifications are from the University of Life? Jordan is a worst-case scenario. In our survey, only 11% falsely claimed to hold a degree, whereas 40% had inflated their grade. In my day, a Desmond (2:2) was the majority degree result. These days it’s in the minority, with two-thirds of graduates getting a 2:1 or above. As you rise the corporate ladder, is that certificate gathering dust in a drawer rather than being proudly displayed on your office wall?

Barrister Dennis O’ Riordan was dismissed from his top city firm last October and barred from practice after falsely claiming degrees from Harvard and Oxford. In truth, he was a qualified barrister with a degree from the University of East Anglia, but in his mind that didn’t fit with his senior position. His exposure came about by pure chance, not as a result of a routine HR check. Clients and colleagues had nothing but praise for his abilities, but his vanity was his downfall.

The lengths people go to to cover their tracks are becoming much more sophisticated than tweaking a CV. HEDD has uncovered candidates who have supported their claims with fake degree certificates and official-looking letters of reference. They have even fabricated breakdowns of course modules, all of which appear legitimate. For as little as £30, you can purchase a novelty degree certificate online. Pick your university, course and qualification and within 48 hours it’s yours, complete with seals and crests. The purveyors of these documents often offer a verification service, where their provenance can be confirmed online, by email or phone, if employers choose to check.

Unfortunately, chancers rely on the fact that most employers don’t check qualifications with the issuing university, taking CVs and certificates at face value. This becomes even more prevalent the further away from graduation you get. Recruiters assume previous employers would have made the checks and that experience and skills, as demonstrated by an exemplary work track record, carry more weight. Figures from HEDD verification checks show many more fraudulent claims from candidates who graduated more than 10 years ago, than from recent graduates.

There’s no getting away from the fact that people are applying for and getting jobs that they aren’t qualified for, at the expense of those who are. I would urge businesses to dig a little deeper and not take CVs at face value. Make it part of standard HR policy, regardless of the seniority or credibility of the applicant. High-profile cases like those of O’Riordan and Jordan should help to achieve that. The fact that Jordan was recruited into an HR role only adds insult to injury, although it could teach Alanis Morrisette a thing or two about irony.

Jayne Rowley is a director of Graduate Prospects and leads the government-backed Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) service. HEDD is a secure online portal that enables enquirers to verify the degree qualifications of UK graduates.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for our weekly update and careers ebook.

My top 10 resources for learning about and teaching pronunciation

Lizzie Pinard

Pronunciation has been referred to as “the CINDERELLA of language teaching in that it has been neglected, and become disconnected from other language learning activities” (Underhill, 2010). Yet, it is known to exercise an important influence on all four  language skills, not only speaking: when we read, we “sub-vocalise” words, or hear them in our mind;  when we listen, our awareness of pronunciation will affect what we are able to hear and how the sounds we hear are represented in our mind. When  we write, knowledge of sound-spelling relationships comes into play, as we hear the words internally first. (Hancock, 2013; Underhill, 2010). This all-encompassing element of teaching is the focus of the latest post in my “ELT Top 10’s” series. 

So here we are:

My top 10 resources to help you get Cinderella to that ball! (Click on any picture to be taken directly to the corresponding resource.)

BOOKS:

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Top ten resources for teachers (part 2!)

Reblogging so I don’t forget this. 🙂

Lizzie Pinard

“The internet is a great place for English language teachers, if you know to where to look!” …thus began part 1  – a post that was written to bring a group of internet-based gems together, to make it easier for all English language teachers to find and benefit from them. It has turned out to be a popular idea, even gaining a nomination for the  Teaching English British Council blog of the month award, BUT it also ruffled a few feathers: In making the list, I left off some brilliant resources!

So here is part 2 – another top ten resources for teachers to try out… This time, including the websites/resources that YOU wanted to see included! (Plus some more of my own…)

1. ELTpics

Screenshot of ELTpics home pageScreenshot of ELTpics home page

This collaborative project has made it possible for teachers to easily source creative commons – licensed photos for use…

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Be a better writer in 15 minutes

Be a better writer in 15 minutes: 4 TED-Ed lessons on grammar and word choice

MatthewWinklerWritingYT

There’s no denying it — the English language can be mighty tricky. When writing a paper, a novel or even an e-mail, you might look at a sentence you just wrote and think, “Is that comma supposed to be there?” or “Is that really the best word to use?” Fear not! TED-Ed has put together a list of four of our favorite grammar and language lessons to get your next piece of writing in tip-top shape.

 

First, let’s look at the often-confusing comma. It isn’t easy holding complex sentences together (just ask a conjunction or a subordinate), but the clever little comma can help lighten the load. How can you tell whether a comma is really needed? Terisa Folaron offers some tricks of the comma trade in this TED-Ed Lesson.

What about the Oxford comma? If you read “Bob, a DJ and a clown” on a guest list, are three people coming to the party or only one? That depends on whether you’re for or against the most hotly-contested punctuation mark of all time. When do we use one? Can it really be optional, or is there a universal rule? In this lesson, TED-Ed explores both sides of this comma conundrum.

Now, take an adjective such as “implacable” or a verb like “proliferate” or even another noun “crony,” and add a suffix, such as “-ity” or “-tion” or “-ism.” You’ve created a new noun. “Implacability,” “proliferation,” “cronyism.” Sounds impressive, right? Wrong! You’ve just unleashed a flesh-eating zombie. In this lesson, Helen Sword explains how few mistakes sour good writing like nominalizations, or, as she likes to call them, zombie nouns. Zombie nouns transform simple and straightforward prose into verbose and often confusing writing. Keep your nouns away from elongating nominalizations!

Finally, when it comes to good writing, don’t take the easy route! Instead, use this little trick to improve your writing: let go of the words “good” and “bad,” and push yourself to illustrate, elucidate and illuminate your world with language.

For more lessons on writing, grammar and linguistics check out our lesson series “The Writer’s Workshop” and “Playing with Language.”

Words from Indian languages

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter
yoga
From the time the East India Company was set up by Queen Elizabeth I, England (and then Britain) has had a very close relationship with India. Although Hindi became the official language after the end of the British Raj, English is still widely used for communication between speakers of the nation’s more than 1,500 languages.

Of course, the process has not all been one way, and many words have passed from Indian languages into English, some of them so common that most people would have no idea of their origin. Shampoo, for instance, comes from a Hindi word meaning ‘to press’, and dungarees (trousers with an part that covers the chest and straps that go over the shoulders) take their name from the Hindi word for the thick cotton cloth from which they were often made. Bungalow (a house with only one level) comes from…

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Write and Improve: An Online writing helper

teflgeek

Writing is probably the most difficult area for learners to improve on by themselves.  Writing demands an audience and if you have no-one to tell you how successful your efforts are – or not – then you are doomed to repeat your failures into eternity.

Cambridge English have, however, just released a beta version of an online, browser based writing helper.  Currently free to use and requiring only a facebook login (or email registration), the service allows learners to input their answers to one of the five questions provided (or submit a piece of writing of their own choice) and to get feedback on their efforts.

write and improve 01

In the screenshot above, the highlighted text at the bottom of the image is the submitted text.  The colour coding represents the program’s opinion of the learner level the different sections of the text represent.  The deeper the green, the closer to B2…

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Meet David Peterson, who developed Dothraki for Game of Thrones

TED Blog

There are seven different words in Dothraki for striking another person with a sword. Among them: “hlizifikh,” a wild but powerful strike; “hrakkarikh,”a quick and accurate strike; and “gezrikh,” a fake-out or decoy strike. But you won’t find these words in George R. R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is where Dothraki originated as the language of the eponymous horse-riding warriors; rather these and more than 3,000 other words were developed by David Peterson, the world’s authority on Dothraki.

At TED2013, Peterson gave this fascinating TED University talk on the process of creating Dothraki for the TV series Game of Thrones. Based on Martin’s books, the HBO series premieres its third season on Sunday.

Peterson, who has a masters in linguistics from UC San Diego, was teaching English composition at Fullerton College when he heard that HBO was hiring someone to develop Dothraki for Game of…

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Do Hungarian jokes translate to English?

Lost in translation? Do foreign jokes work in English?


What makes Generation Y laugh in Germany, India, Hungary, Mexico and Brazil? Do these jokes work in English or is the humour lost in translation?

Here is a selection of jokes submitted by Guardian readers across the globe, told by Guardian staff in the original language and then in English.

Enjoy.

A word game to communicate in any language

While working with kids who have trouble speaking, Ajit Narayanan sketched out a way to think about language in pictures, to relate words and concepts in “maps.” The idea now powers an app that helps nonverbal people communicate, and the big idea behind it, a language concept called FreeSpeech, has exciting potential.

This talk was presented at an official TED Conference. TED’s editors featured it among our daily selections on the home page.