All posts by shef@dwc

Aborigines in the news

Arnhem Land, Australia.
Image by Rusty Stewart via Flickr

The BBC writes that a report has come out in Australia about Aboriginal social and economic trends. The report is not good:

The report measured 50 key indicators of disadvantage, and found that there has been no improvement in 80% of them.

There have been no gains, for instance, in literacy or numeracy rates.

In an otherwise bleak assessment, one of the few areas of improvement was employment.

Prim Minister Mr Rudd

called this a devastating report which was unacceptable and required decisive action.

The BBC article has links to several other stories about Aborigines living in Australia today:

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Interactive Writing session #9: June 19th, 2009

  1. To study English at university, you need
    1. a note-taking system
      1. e.g. mind maps, developed by a British man, Tony Buzan.
      2. here is a Japanese system which I like and use, developed by “Hawk Express” (for photos, click here)
    2. a vocabulary-learning system (e.g. word-cards)
      1. a way to record new words (spelling, pronunciation, meaning, at least; example sentence is a bonus, but it takes space)
      2. a way to review new words quickly and easily (if it’s not quick or easy, you won’t review them!)
  2. Class reading of chapter 2 of Diddakoi (up to p. 24)
    1. note new words, expressions, grammar,
    2. note how the gypsies speak
    3. note the gypsies’ ways of thinking (“Are you going to let your woman talk to me like that?”, “we don’t want no snoopers”, “’tisn’t children as are the bother… it’s the things they have to have”, “When you had one wagon there was plenty of room; in a fine house with three bedrooms there’s no room at all”.
    4. The Gypsies prefer a travelling life: they prefer the wagon to a house. They prefer their freedom, even if it means they cannot afford many “fine things”.
    5. They look after each other, and each other’s children.
    6. They have lots of old traditions which are different from those of non-gypsies (e.g. burning the home of a dead person).
    7. Not all gypsies respect the old traditions: some of them think that is “old thinking” and they want to change (or maybe they just want some of the dead person’s belongings?)
    8. The admiral knows the gypsies traditions and he respects them. He also trusts the gypsies (even though there is a fire in his orchard, he is not worried).
  3. Homework: prepare the rest of chapter 2 (at least up to page 30) before next class:
    1. look up new words, check the pronunciation, not just the meaning.
    2. I expect you to read and prepare before the class, not during the class.
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Research in English #9: June 19th, 2009

Tasmanian Devil
Image by nim via Flickr
  1. Poster presentations
    1. 12 people gave presentations today.
    2. Everyone who did NOT give a presentation today must do it next week.
  2. Some general comments about the presentations:
    1. These are YOUR presentations, so I think it is better if I say nothing about the presentation styles. Students should reflect (反省)on their own presentations, and learn by observing other presentations.
    2. About the content of the presentations, I was pleased because all of them showed
      1. you had done some research
      2. you chose topics that had educational value for the class
    3. What is your purpose or objective for studying at university?
      1. to learn to think
      2. to gain new understanding
      3. to graduate on time (i.e. in 4 years or less).
    4. Information –> Knowledge –> Understanding.
      1. E.g. Australia has many World Heritage sites (information –> knowledge, because most of you already know what “World Heritage Site” means because you have some in Japan, e.g. Horyuji 法隆寺)
      2. 2 of them are Cultural Heritage sites – Sydney Opera House and Carlton Gardens (information –> knowledge, because you already know what the Sydney Opera House is, so you can guess why it is of cultural importance)
      3. Almost all the other World Heritage sites in Australia are sites of natural beauty or importance, e.g. the Great Barrier Reef (knowledge). What can we understand about Australia from this knowledge and information?
    5. What is the principle on which “freedom of religion” is based? It is based on the ideas
      1. that all human beings are individuals
      2. that human beings think as individuals (“there is no such thing as a collective brain” – Ayn Rand)
      3. that a human being’s life belongs to no-one but himself/herself
      4. that individuals must therefore be free to think for themselves and make their own decisions about what is best for their own life
      5. freedom of religion is based on the freedom to think what you like and to disagree with the people around you without fear of violence or coercion.
  3. Returned homework from June 5th – Unit II, Part II worksheet (the didgeridoo)
    1. Mind your tenses 時制 – rule of thumb:  use the same tense in your answer as in the question
  4. Textbook (p. 22) Unit III, part II listening – The Broome Pearlers (listen and write the answers in your textbook)
  5. Homework – none
  6. Collected – Unit III, Part III worksheet and posters
    1. I plan to take photos of all the posters and post the photos here on this blog (unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries last Friday, so I could not take photos then).
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Interactive Writing session #8: June 12th, 2009

  1. Review: what are the main themes of “Diddakoi“?
  2. A theme is a big idea. There are many smaller ideas in each chapter of the book. For example:
    1. Why is Kizzy’s Gran found dead outside the wagon, not inside it? Because gypsies want to die outside under the open sky.
    2. Why do the other gypsies burn the wagon? Because gypsy tradition says that nothing that belonged to the dead should be used or touched.
  3. Assignment:
    1. Re-read chapters 2 and 3 and pick out 10 new ideas or concepts
    2. Find an article, essay or interview in Japanese about
      1. either gypsies,
      2. or Rumer Godden.
      3. summarize the article or essay in 2-3 sentences, and provide the reference to it using the MLA style.
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Australian movie reports

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08:  Actor and singer ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Here are the reports on Australian movies that students have emailed me. In future, perhaps students can make their own blogs and put their reports on their own blogs. Would you like that? All the movie reports make this blog entry very long, so I have cut it short. To read all the movie reports, click here.

  1. Japanese Story
    Australian film 2003       director; Sue Brooks
    actor; Gotaro Tsunashima    actress; Toni Collette
    Sandy, played by Toni Collette is a director in Western Australia.  One day she has to guide a Japanese businessman Hiromitsu, played by Gotaro. At first, because of the culture differences, they can not understand each other. Sandy is angry about his behavior. Then they drive into desert and their car breaks down. They are lost in desert , but this difficulty makes their friendship deep. Gradually they understand and love each other. A few days later, Sandy and Hiromitsu go swimming and Hiromitsu dives into shallow water and…
Cover of
Cover of The Piano
New Zealand actress Anna Paquin.
Image via Wikipedia
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More than 1,200 people have contracted swine flu in Australia

More than 1,200 people have contracted swine flu in Australia – although no-one has died from it yet.

Read the whole report from the BBC.

The large numbers of people infected with the virus may mean the WHO will label the infection a pandemic.

What does pandemic mean? It means “global”. The origin of the word is

pándēmos common, public (pan- pan- meaning everything+ dêm(os) the people.

I don’t understand why it will suddenly become a pandemic, just because a lot of people in Australia get sick with the virus.

Nor do I understand why the WHO alert level is

currently at phase five of a six-level scale

when a) the virus is not getting stronger or more dangerous, and
b) more people are not dying of it.
The combined effect of using the word “pandemic” (which in English sounds like “panic”) together with the 6-level scale of “flu alert” is to frighten people and make it more likely that people will react in panic rather than rationally.
A BBC reporter points out:

BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh says
it is true that the word “pandemic” sounds scary. But it simply means a global epidemic of an infectious disease.  He says it is not a signal that the virus is getting more virulent – only a measure of its geographical spread…. The media must play a part here, emphasising the facts about this virus and not over-reacting

Yes, thank you, Mr. Walsh.

What do you think about the way the media have reacted to the swine flu?

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A young Japanese in Australia

Legend of Bacteria is the blog of a young Japanese man who has been in Australia for over a year, ever since graduating from university. I know him quite well, but I will respect his privacy and only refer to his handle name.

You can read his blog, in both Japanese and English, here: Legend of Bacteria

He has a dream. He is not in Australia just for sightseeing, nor for learning English. What is his dream? Visit his blog and find out.

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