Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Multiculturalism and diversity : Oliver Letwin: Minister apologises after newly-released papers reveal 'racist' attitude towards black rioters | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Under the "thirty year" rule, many government papers - for example discussions among ministers - are only published thirty years later. At the end of December every year then, a series of assorted papers are published, and there are always some interesting or shocking revelations. Here is one of this year's, about what one minister said abut Black people thirty years ago.

Oliver Letwin: Minister apologises after newly-released papers reveal 'racist' attitude towards black rioters | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Master LEA December classroom test

I have started marking your classroom tests. About half the students are quite a long way below a master's level in English. It is very important that you listen a lot to BBC radio ( on any subject which interests you) and that you read newspapers. Try setting the homepage on your computer to yahoo.co.uk.

If you read and listen, your vocabulary and comprehension will improve. Your grammar, however, will not improve automatically. Be honest : how many students have not opened their grammar book all year? Read two pages of your grammar book every morning, that's what the doctor says.

More specifically on the classroom test:

1) contractions are obligatory in spoken English, except in very formal circumstances. You should not use contractions in writing, except in very informal circumstances (emails to friends, for example). No contractions, then, in university written work.

2) One sentence, in university work and often in professional work, should not be a paragraph by itself.

3) When you give in your script at the end of the test, do not give in the subject, too. This gives the impression that you are still in high school and completely uninterested in knowing the answers to the questions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thème agrégation: concours blanc

With it being the run-up to Christmas, I understand that quite a few of you coudln't get away to do the mock translation exam. Nevertheless, everyone should prepare it carefully before our next class on the 5th January, when we will be going over it. I will hopefully have corrected all the scripts I have received by then. Here is the passage in question. You are allowed to swear.

 Université de Rouen
Préparation à l’Agrégation d’anglais
Concours blanc
Décembre 2015,
John Mullen
Please write on every second line and leave a margin.

M. Tristani avait commandé l'apéritif dans la grande salle à manger déserte du restaurant panoramique, et il devait s'attendre à quelque déjeuner galant en compagnie d'une jeune femme qui s'intéressait à la fabrication du miel, mais Marie n'avait pas l'habitude de badiner pendant les déjeuners de travail. Dès que le maître d'hôtel était venu prendre la commande, elle lui avait exposé d'une voix décidée les grandes lignes de son projet. M. Tristani, dont les ardeurs s'étaient très vite éteintes, l'écoutait gravement, en hochant la tête, le poignet dans le plâtre, détachant de temps à autre maladroitement un filet de sole de sa main valide, puis, posant son couteau à poisson sur la nappe, il ramassait sa fourchette et avalait une bouchée d'un air douloureux, et même préoccupé, car, s'il avait bien compris, l'idée consistait à recouvrir un top model de miel.

M. Tristani n'apportait pas beaucoup d'éléments de réponse aux multiples interrogations de Marie, se contentant d'éluder les questions en esquissant un geste vague de la main avec une expression fataliste, et, reprenant son couteau à poisson, il se remettait à défaire longitudinalement son filet de sole, en jetant à l'occasion un coup d'oeil rêveur sur le quartier administratif de Shinjuku qui s'étendait dans la brume derrière la baie vitrée.

Il restait résolument perplexe, répondait à côté, ou évasivement, aux questions techniques précises que Marie avait préparées à son intention (agenda ouvert à côté d'elle sur la nappe, liste de questions, qu'elle cochait à mesure), sans jamais obtenir le moindre renseignement utile, à croire qu’il n'y connaissait rien aux abeilles (ou que l'apiculture n'était pour lui qu'une couverture). 

D’après Nue, de Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Editions de Minuit, 2015

The next passage for translation after this is the one by Ben Jelloun, and after that I will have provided you with a supplementary booklet of passages.

The Sun told to put apology to Jeremy Corbyn on front page | Press | News | The Independent

The leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, elected in 2015, has been harshly treated by the media. This story is not untypical:

The Sun told to put apology to Jeremy Corbyn on front page | Press | News | The Independent

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Popular Music Studies journal

The latest issue of the journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music is just out. I have a book review in it .

Vol 5, No 2 (2015)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Master LEA Homework

Remember you have till the 14th December.
In other news, I am told that our classes start again on the 5th January.



Many of you will know this journal issue on the Great Famine, in the wonderful journal the Revue française de civilisation britannique (OK, OK, I am the editor).

If not, check it out here 

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

My research

Someone asked me about my research : you can find a lot of it here :


Monday, December 07, 2015


99.9% of the time,  this word must be followed by a plural noun.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Multculturalism and diversity : racism in the UK police force

In 2003 a TV company sent a hidden camera into a British police force, and showed  frequent extreme racism among policeman. Five years later, in 2008, the same TV company looked at what had changed.

Here is the first part of the 2008 programme. It is ten minutes long, but it is easier to find part two on youtube.

Grammar "used to" "get used to" and "be used to"

Thie explanation on this page is not bad:

although I wouldn't myself have used the word "normal". "To be used to" is more to do with something not being a problem.

Of course you will have noticed that neither "I used to go" nor "I am used to going" can be used to inform you about my present habits as such.

"I used to go swimming every Saturday" (I no longer do so)
"I'm used to going swimming in crowded swimming pools". (This does not pose a problem for me).

from the British National corpus:

ACW 809 By now he was used to spending longer and longer periods alone, yet in that moment when she walked away he always experienced a brief sense of loss that made him want to rush after her and beg her not to go. 

BMW 12 At just over six foot, with thick curling brown hair and eyes that owed their startling blueness to his Irish ancestry, Tom was used to being the object of female appreciation whilst being slightly puzzled by it.

FRF 3844 He was used to being in control of events, not the victim of circumstance; even so, the situation intrigued him.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Revue française de civilisation britannique

You will find here, online and free, the latest issue, just out , of the Revue française de civilisation britannique.

The subject of this issue is the UK general elections of 2015. There are articles on the different issues in the campaign (housing, immigration, the NHS), and on the different methods used (youth sections, stage managing leaders' personal lives, etc). And articles on many more subjects.

Multiculturalism and diversity: podcasts

Master's students might find these recordings useful for revision. This is the talk about the history of immigration and multiculturalism in Britain. In MP3 format:

Part One is here (80 minutes)

Part Two is here (35 minutes)

Keywords: podcast, British history, history of immigration, multiculturalism, diversity, racism, antiracism