Linguistics

Cambridge English Exams The First Hundred Years

Cambridge English Exams The First Hundred Years

This book is an official Cambridge publication marking 100 years of ESOL qualifications like FCE, IELTS and CELTA from the very first CPE (Cambridge Proficiency in English) test in 1913.

I have to state straightaway that it is difficult to imagine any school or teacher actually paying money to buy this book, and I’m saying that as someone who is rather obsessed with industry trivia. However, the book does have some fascinating information, some of which I’ve shared below. I also imagine there’ll be lots of copies given away by Cambridge to celebrate their centenary, in which case it is certainly worth a look.

The book traces the development of Cambridge ESOL qualifications from CPE in 1913, what was to become FCE in 1939, PET and what was to become IELTS
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Review ~ How Languages are Learned
Reviewed Jul 2013 by David Truxal
How Languages are Learned

How Languages are Learned

The collaborative duo of Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada is one of the most well-known and respected partnerships in the field of SLA. The two are highly prolific writers and researchers in their own right and have coauthored numerous articles and books ranging widely in subject including oral communication correction, developmental readiness in SLA and L2 learner awareness of L1 influence, to name just a few. Here, they come together again for the newest edition of the widely-used and highly-acclaimed book How Languages are Learned.

Now in its fourth edition, How Languages are Learned has been highly valued for the way it relates language acquisition theory to classroom teaching and learning and draws practical implications from the research for the language classroom. One of the strengths of all editions of this book is the emphasis on looking at relevant classroom research in which to analyze particular aspects of classroom dynamics and classroom instruction. Through looking at prior researchers’ studies, various SLA topics are examined such as the dynamics of pair work, learners talking to learners, oral and written corrective feedback and teacher’s questioning practices.
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Review ~ Introducing Second Language Acquisition
Reviewed Jul 2013 by David Truxal
Introducing Second Language Acquisition

Introducing Second Language Acquisition

Having written textbooks and scholarly articles for more than 40 years, Muriel Saville-Troike is an icon in the field of SLA. Coming primarily from a background in bilingual/multilingual education, she has examined an immense variety of SLA topics including contrasts in patterns of communication, achieving coherence in multilingual interaction, development of English language imagined communities and cross cultural communication in the classroom. In the second edition of Introducing Second Language Acquisition Saville-Troike shows again why she has been such an influential figure in SLA.

Aimed more at undergraduate students but practical as well for graduate students with little or no knowledge of linguistics, the second edition of this highly accessible book, like the previous edition, offers a clear and practical introduction to second language acquisition (SLA). Saville-Troike uses non-technical language to answer three key questions that the book investigates: how a second language is acquired, what the second language learner comes to know and why some learners are more successful than others. The book takes a step-by-step approach to
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Review ~ Exploring ELF
Reviewed May 2013 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
Exploring ELF

Exploring ELF

Exploring ELF has nothing to do with Santa’s little helpers but is in fact a new book in the Cambridge Applied Linguistics series, authored by Anna Mauranen and edited by Carol A. Chappelle and Susan Hunston. ELF stands for English as a Lingua Franca, a term which is becoming more widely recognized around the world, especially in the realms of academia among not only language researchers but also teachers. Exploring ELF covers a vast range of topics related to ELF and all are extremely relevant in the field of linguistics.

The book deals with different perspectives on ELF, academic speech as data, vocabulary in oral ELF, word grammar, discourse explicitness, and repetition and rephrasing, after the very interesting Introduction. I was a little apprehensive because it seemed quite long at fourteen pages. However, as I started to read it I was relieved to find that it is very interesting and informative. Mauranen introduces the world of ELF and its spread in a relatively easy manner and includes a number of references and studies relevant to ELF. She also outlines the chapters, making the book easier to navigate. The introduction ends with a detailed reference list which is extremely useful for anyone interested in ELF. I highly recommend looking at the introduction before diving into the book.
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Review ~ Genres across the Disciplines
Reviewed Apr 2013 by Adam Simpson
Genres across the Disciplines

Genres across the Disciplines

Why do university students write? What are they expected to write? To what extent do academics understand the process of setting a writing assignment, and – significantly – how proficient are they in creating appropriate prompts to elicit the kind of writing they expect? On first reading, none of these questions seem that demanding, nor might you expect them to have interesting answers. Nevertheless, it is precisely with such issues that Genres across the Disciplines concerns itself.

Those aspiring to read this title should know that it is intended for a fairly select audience. If, say, you’re currently doing an MA and at some point need to analyse student writing, this title will be at the top of your wish list. Indeed, it is with such an audience in mind, along with those tasked with preparing and assessing a writing-related curriculum and/or materials design, that this title has been written. As such, it presents the reader with what is ostensibly an unparalleled, forward-looking, corpus-based body of research into contemporary student writing in higher education.
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Review ~ Replication Research in Applied Linguistics
Reviewed Dec 2012 by Sepideh Mirzaei Fard
Replication Research in Applied Linguistics

Replication Research in Applied Linguistics

As a PhD student and a newcomer to the world of research I found Replication Research in Applied Linguistics to be a useful extra textbook for research courses at universities along with other sources the professors introduced. Most of the time the doctoral students are encouraged to try to make a contribution to the overall knowledge of the field when it comes to selecting a topic for their research by doing something totally new. However, after reading this book, I found that we CAN contribute to the knowledge of the field even by doing appropriate replication studies, provided that we know the proper and accurate way of doing such research. If you want know how to replicate research and are eager to know the technical practices of replication in applied linguistics, then this book is written for you.

The book is organized carefully in three parts. First, we are introduced to the field by the editor of this collection with a comprehensible introduction to replication research in scientific thinking and practice, especially in applied linguistics. The book starts by explaining some introductory issues and then continues by explaining some practical aspects such as how to do and write replication research. The last part of the book provides two real examples of qualitative and quantitative replication research.
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Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning

Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning

Theories of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) have tended to converge on two main notions; that language learning is either primarily cognitive (informed by processes ongoing within the brain of the learner) or primarily social (emerging as a result of social interactions). Of course, researchers have long understood that these two domains must be to some extent interrelated, but the argument remains as to which is the driving influence behind SLA. This collection of edited papers seeks to integrate the two approaches, and provide a number of perspectives on the manner in which the social and the cognitive dimensions affect and interact with each other.

The book is divided into three sections. The first deals with the theoretical perspectives advanced by researchers into sociocognition, while the second takes a more empirical route, presenting studies into the interpersonal and intrapersonal functions of sociocognition among learners. Perhaps for most prospective readers the final section, concerned as it is with the practical classroom applications of sociocognitive perspectives, will be the most important and anticipated. Each of these three sections will be
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Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics

Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics

Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics by Diane Larsen-Freeman and Lynne Cameron forms part of the Oxford Applied Linguistics series. However, you don’t need a great deal of prior knowledge of Applied Linguistics to read this book, as the main focus is on the complex systems part of the title. For that reason, it may be that some background in science would be helpful. Alternatively, a scientific background may have you throwing this book against the wall, for reasons explained below.

Complexity theory tells us that the behaviour of certain systems, known as “complex systems”, cannot be predicted because unmeasurably tiny changes now lead to completely different results later. This concept is best grasped using an analogy with a pile of sand. If you keep adding grains of sand to the pile, an avalanche is sure to happen, but it’s impossible to predict when, and in which direction, and how much sand will fall. All we can do is look back, and offer a retrospective account of what happened: the pile collapsed after adding such-and-such a grain, and fell in such-and-such a way, something that doesn’t allow us to predict similar events in the future because that “…depends on the day of the week… the time of day…” and a thousand other interconnected and uncontrollable factors (p235). It doesn’t take much scientific knowledge to realise that this runs contrary to the conventional picture of science that most of us learnt at school, with its regularly moving pendulums and models of the solar system. Complexity theory has been heralded by some as a paradigm shift, one that could revolutionise areas outside the natural sciences like economics, education and business. However, others believe that when it is exported to those other areas it usually becomes pseudo-science at best (hence the potential for angry scientists).
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Review ~ The Lexicography of English
Reviewed Jul 2011 by Carmela Chateau
The Lexicography of English

The Lexicography of English

The author of this book, Henri Béjoint, believes that English dictionaries can serve as a valid example of the evolution of lexicography from the seventeenth century to the present day. His interest in dictionaries is a life-long passion, one which is probably shared by many people. The statistics he provides in the introduction date a little: 90% of households in Britain possessed at least one dictionary in 1985; 87% of households in America owned a dictionary in 1989. This time-lag could be explained by the fact that the earlier, shorter version of this book was first published in 1994. It is probable that in the twenty-first century more and more people will be turning to online dictionaries or CD-ROMS, but dictionaries are rarely discarded unless they are worn out through over-use.

This is quite a lengthy volume, divided into ten chapters of unequal size with an introduction, a conclusion, an extensive bibliography, and four pages of abbreviations at the front (rather like those to be found in a dictionary). Inside the book there is an insert containing 27 reproductions, on glossy paper, of dictionary pages through the ages. This is followed by screenshots of a dictionary on CD-ROM, an online dictionary and the Wiktionary entry for ‘dictionary’, together with four black and white photographs of the people working on the OED from its beginnings in the 1880s to the present day.
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Review ~ Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language
Reviewed May 2011 by Tom Alder
Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language

Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language

For those who are not familiar with him, David Crystal is the “David Bellamy of linguistics”, a knowledgeable, animated and bearded figure, and an outspoken commentator on contemporary language matters. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language is an ideal vehicle for his comprehensive knowledge. It is accessible, compelling and well organised, and deals with its topics with a depth that belies its glossy exterior and format. It is packed full of fascinating facts and is quite an inspiration to read, as well as being an ideal reference or revision tool.

In terms of its presentation and approach, this book resembles Crystal’s The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. The Houston Chronicle, referring to that earlier work, commented that ‘you can’t turn a page without learning some fascinating titbit about our common tongue.’ I would make a similar claim for The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language. It seems that anything you want to look up is there in some form or other, and there is a wealth of new information and interest, making it a perfect book for idle browsing as well as serious study and reference.
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Review: English Today
Reviewed Jul 2010 by Dave Allen
English Today

English Today

If you’re reading this I can guess that you are either a language teacher (current, former or prospective) or that you have some other affiliation (work, pleasure or both) with the English language. You’re also likely one of 500 million speakers of the most global language in history. Nonetheless, I can’t possibly guess where you are right now – you maybe at home or at work, on a train or in a tuk-tuk, by the coast or in the mountains, for we English teachers manage to get almost everywhere, in the same way as the object of our profession manages to spread itself unceasingly into every sphere of the global human network. The language of the World Cup, as denoted by Fifa™, is English, and England, the birthplace of both English and football, nowadays has a major impact on neither. It is the de-facto language of academic
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Review: Language Teaching: Surveys and Studies
Reviewed Jul 2010 by Dave Allen

Language Teaching (henceforth LT) is one of our field’s longest running (since 1968) and most prestigious journals; getting published in it is only slightly short of getting knighted by the Queen. All exaggeration aside, LT’s most distinctive characteristic is its variety of article formats, including Plenary speeches, Research timelines, A country in focus, A language in focus, Surveys of PhD/ED.D theses, Annual reviews of research, Research in progress and the Comparative book reviews. I will look at these various types of article below.
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Quantitive Corpus Linguistics with R
Reviewed Jun 2010 by Carmela Chateau
Quantitative Corpus Linguistics with R

Quantitative Corpus Linguistics with R

This book is a comprehensive practical introduction to using R (open source software) for corpus linguistics. It is a big book, almost 250 pages long, and it is very hands on. It therefore takes a long time to work through. Fortunately, the companion website provides downloadable files with all the command lines already typed out. The software is freely downloadable from The Comprehensive R Archive Network website and the companion files are available on the CorpLing with R companion website, but a CD might have been a useful addition to the book for those who do not have easy internet access. The instructions, although a bit off-putting at first, are actually quite easy to follow, even for someone as inexpert as this reviewer.  Unfortunately, in the book, code lines are printed in black on a grey background, which does not make for easy reading.

The book starts with a brief outline, which very honestly points out that this is not an easy book, while expressing the hope that it will help the reader to become a good corpus linguist. Chapter 2 is a short introduction to the field of corpus linguistics. Presumably any reader interested in buying this book already knows something about corpus linguistics. There are however a few thought-provoking questions, such as the apparently easy to answer “What is a word?” which is immediately
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The Articulate Mammal
Reviewed Feb 2010 by Carmela Chateau
The Articulate Mammal

The Articulate Mammal

As this book was first published in 1976, with subsequent editions in 1983, 1989, 1998 and finally a fifth edition in 2008, it would appear that many people are interested in learning more about psychololinguistics, and that the subject requires regular updating. Jean Aitchison is an accomplished writer, well able to simplify complex topics without too much dumbing down, and the first chapters make an entertaining and illuminating read. No prior knowledge of the subject is necessary, and most language teachers will be fascinated by the insights provided into the whys and hows of language in the brain.

It is slightly difficult to review the fifth edition of a book: what is new and what is different about this edition? The accompanying website offers hope: there are three audio links, including one to a discussion entitled “What is new in the fifth edition? What are the emerging debates in the field?” Unfortunately, that link doesn’t work. Even more unfortunately, neither do the other two! It is a bit disappointing that the companion website announced on the front cover is not put to better use. Then again, there is no mention of the website inside the book, so perhaps it is awaiting development for the next edition.
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Semantic Prosody: A Critical Evaluation
Reviewed Jan 2010 by Carmela Chateau

Since the phenomenon was first described by John Sinclair in 1987 and given its name by Sinclair and Louw, semantic prosody has been much debated by corpus linguists, with various interpretations being put forward. The first example to be described was “set in”. John Sinclair remarked that “The most striking feature of this phrasal verb is the nature of its subjects. In general, they refer to unpleasant states of affairs.” This book by Dominic Stewart sets out to provide a critical evaluation of this phenomenon (only in a hardback edition1, so it is probably intended mainly for the library market or as a university textbook).

Louw suggested in 1993 that semantic prosody can be reversed- either intentionally, to create irony, or unintentionally, thus revealing insincerity. It may also perhaps reveal non-native language competence, as when a student’s supervisor was thanked for “his persistent help and advice”, (as quoted by Hunston in 2007). Semantic prosody may therefore be a useful area of study for the language teacher, and concordance analysis can serve as a valid proxy for native-speaker experience.
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From Corpus to Classroom
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Glenda Inverarity

This textbook is an important new contribution to the discipline of linguistics because it considers corpus from a speaking point of view and, drawing on corpora of both spoken and written texts, explains comparisons between the features of spoken English and written English. Furthermore, this book incorporates a thorough literature review of all major texts written about using corpora, and as such represents an up-to-date bibliography of previous work on the topic, and presents the latest
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Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Dave Allen

Research Methods in Applied LinguisticsThe book is divided into four main parts: key issues in researching language learning/teaching, data collection, data analysis and writing up research. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies are discussed, alongside popular mixed-methods approaches, such as triangulated studies, thus covering many of the methods commonly employed in the field. As such, this text may be particularly useful as pre-reading material for teachers beginning an MA in applied linguistics, providing a thorough introduction to the wide variety of research methodologies, which may help in deciding what type of research to conduct for a
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Multilingualism and Assessment
Reviewed May 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi

This book is one of many in Cambridge’s Studies in Language Testing series. This volume is compiled of 20 edited papers that were presented at the 2nd ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) Conference in Berlin, May 2005. At first glance it is aesthetically simple and very academic in appearance. This made me very apprehensive to open it as I wasn’t sure
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World Englishes
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Eric Roth

Full title: World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching
Author:
Andy Kirkpatrick
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Reviewed by:
Eric Roth

Do the English in England speak the same English as the Americans, the Jamaicans, the South Africans, the Australians, the Irish, and the Indians? Do they even speak the same English as they did 100 years ago before radio, television, and the internet? Should there be a global standard for all English speakers? Linguist Andy Kirkpatrick raises these and many other provocative questions in his exceptionally documented book “World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching” published by Cambridge University Press. What does it mean if a majority of English speakers are actually English as a second language speakers? Can we actually assert that one version of English is more correct, formal, or proper than
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Publisher: Oxford University Press
Authors: A P R Howatt with H G Widdowson

Despite the fact that I could obviously judge the topic of the book from the title, this history of TEFL and TESOL was in no way what I expected before I started reading it. How that was a good and bad thing for me is examined below, along with some ideas on who else this book might be of interest to and a summary of some of the most interesting
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