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Public Lecture Series 2017 – The English you didn’t learn in School V: English spelling really does make sense

Public Lecture Series 2017 - The English you didn't learn in School V: English spelling really does make sense

Almost everyone remembers studying English in school. For the most part in Hong Kong, that memory is of learning grammar, vocabulary, and how to read and write. Although you may have some pleasant memories of learning English in school, it was probably mostly hard work. Yet, after all that studying, you may still be somewhat dissatisfied with your ability to speak and understand English. This is partly because learning a foreign language is a lifelong endeavor. However, your dissatisfaction may also be because there was something missing in your education. Because language is composed of so many components and nuances, it is impossible to teach everything in school. Thus, the present lecture series provides participants with a taste for some of the other aspects of language learning that are seldom taught in school. Although it is impossible to fill in all those gaps in your learning on a few Saturday mornings, we hope to provide you with some insight about English and language learning in general.

4 March 2017English spelling really does make cents sense (Repeated from 2014) exPaul Stapleton
11 March 2017The English nobody learned in school: the pragmatic and argumentative side of linguisticpressionsGregoire Winterstein
18 March 2017The music of language: Verse forms in EnglishJeffrey Clapp
25 March 2017Mobile-assisted English learningWang Lixun
1 April 2017Is English pronunciation really so difficult?Clairine Chan & Regine Lai

Programme schedule and transportation

Programme schedule

FREE Coach from MTR Kowloon Tong Station and Tai Po Campus and back (Limited bus seats. Not guaranteed, First-come, first-served) [ Location Map for boarding ]

Reserved parking available upon request

Other public transportation means


Participants could request for an E-certificate of attendance for each seminar attended

Deadline: 28 February 2017

Enquiries: Please contact Ms Lee at 2948 7424

Registration: Online registration


English spelling really does make cents sense (Repeated from 2014) 04 March 2017
Paul Stapleton
Department of English Language Education

The spelling of words in English is often thought of as difficult or even illogical. Students of the language, whether they are native speakers or learners of English as a second language, struggle with spelling English words, sometimes throughout their lives. Words such as “accommodation,” “millennium,” “calendar,” “occasion” and “tongue” are just a few of many mispelled – NO – “misspelled” words. This may make you think that English spelling should be reformed or at least standardized into a more reasonable system. English spelling, however, does have a deeper logic that may surprise you. This hidden reasoning relates to the way we read written letters and characters. Specifically, the English spelling system has deep connections to the way our brain processes visual information. In this lecture, via an explanation of the historical development of English spelling, together with comparisons with other spelling systems, as well as an exploration of the processes in the human brain, we will come to better understand why English spelling actually makes cents sense.

The English nobody learned in school – the pragmatic and argumentative side of linguistic expression

11 March 2017

Gregoire Winterstein
Department of Linguistics and Modern Language Studies

It is better to be “barely late” or “barely on time”? What exactly does it mean to be lying? What do I exactly mean when I say “he’s not the smartest person I know”?

The answers to these questions belong to the domain of Pragmatics, the study of how language is used and what one can expect from users of language.

In this talk, we will show that the way the literal meaning of an utterance is enriched and governed by precise rules which every speaker seems to follow, even though they have never been explicitly told about these rules. Philosophers and linguists have tried to uncover the nature and source of these rules, and we will present some of their hypotheses in this talk.

The question of whether these rules are language specific or follow more universal rules about human communication will also be addressed. We will show how social conventions might affect the way an utterance is interpreted, and for example why a given utterance might be considered to be a lie in some contexts, but not others.

The music of language: Verse Forms in English

18 March 2017
Jeffrey Clapp
Department of Literature and Cultural Studies  

What’s special about great lines of poetry like “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” (Emily Dickinson) or “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (William Shakespeare)? Both are in verse! Until recently, almost all poetry in English was written in verse, with the natural stresses of English words fitted into a rhythmic pattern. In addition, almost all poems had a regular rhyme scheme. By combining rhythm and rhyme, English writers developed verse forms. This session will introduce two of the most popular verse forms in English poetry: the sonnet and the ballad. We will look at classic examples of these two forms, and discover how rhyme and rhythm work together to create meaning in poetry. Toward the end of the session, some quick and easy writing exercises will prepare you to compose English verse.

Mobile-assisted English learning

25 March 2017
Lixun Wang
Department of Linguistics and Modern Language Studies

In recent years, with the fast development of mobile technologies, mobile-assisted English learning has been adopted by more and more English learners. In this talk, I will introduce a wide range of mobile applications which facilitate our daily communication and help us to learn English. For examples, speech recognition systems enable us to use our speech to control our mobile devices to perform different tasks, such as converting speech to texts automatically; text-to-speech synthesizers allow us to convert written texts into speech automatically; machine translation systems help us to translate English into Chinese (or vice versa) in the blink of an eye; mobile apps of English language learning games enable us to learn English in a fun way; mobile apps of English electronic storybooks, a form of expressive and interactive text narration that integrates multimedia features such as animation, music and sound, are particularly effective in teaching and motivating young learners. Other practical mobile applications, such as powerful electronic dictionaries, apps for creating English quizzes, and apps that provide rich English learning materials will be introduced as well.

Is English pronunciation really so difficult?

1 April 2017
Ms. Clairine Chan and Dr. Regine Lai
Department of English Language Education & Department of Linguistics and Modern Language Studies

I take it you already know

Of tough and bough and cough and dough?

Others may stumble but not you

On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.

Well done! And now you wish perhaps,

To learn of less familiar traps?

Are you confident of your pronunciation of the words in this poem, or do you find English pronunciation full of traps, as this poem suggests? Is English pronunciation often so confusing and difficult for you? This talk will present some common pronunciation problems of Hong Kong learners of English that are not often taught in schools, and suggest some tips on how to better master the pronunciation of sounds and words, as well as natural sentence stress and rhythm.

Please click here for details of the Public Lecture Series 2017.

  • 主辦單位
    • 英語教育學系
  • 日期
    • 2017-03-04
  • 時間
    • 09:45 ~ 12:00
  • 地點
    • 教大大埔校園D1-LP-03室
  • 電話
    • (852) 2948 7424

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