Sit back, catch up and hold on

I pulled through a weekend of intensive English philology contact studies. Sorry for the messy post, but I just had to write off this feeling of accomplishment. (Yay!) Our lectures started at five PM on Friday and carried on on Saturday, for the whole day. Friday evening is not the most energetic time of the week for me, I have to admit. We were supposed to pick up phrasal verbs in our grammar studies as well as hang on until after 8 PM to deliver the speech we prepared. Can’t really say we could sit back much.

As you maybe noticed, I tried using some phrasal verbs above. They’re not easy for non-native speakers! We waded through a whole bunch of practise sentences. The group quickly agreed that if you need to use phrasal verbs in writing, it’s best to check their exact meaning, as especially the fully idiomatic phrasal verbs can be tricky. I didn’t do that for the ones above, so you’re welcome to comment, if they are totally rubbish from a native speaker point of view! Non-idiomatic and semi-idiomatic phrasal verbs can be tricky as well, but less so than the idiomatic ones. It surely requires getting to know the idiomatic expressions well before the phrasal verbs come naturally for me in everyday conversations. I’m only happy that academic writing and our essays shouldn’t contain phrasal verbs anyway, it takes off some of the pressure of learning loads of new expressions in  a short time. (For example during this course).

After 8PM yesterday I was already a bit tired, at the time it was my turn to deliver my academic speech. The speech I prepared about B.F. Skinner on “Behaviourism and operant conditioning in education today”. I wasn’t as focused as I had hoped I would be, but I think it went okay anyway. Interesting figures were presented in all speeches and I have learned to like speeches more. I used to hate giving speeches, because it made me so nervous. Now I think it’s a good skill to have, but I still don’t like giving speeches unprepared. I like to be prepared.

After a good nights sleep and letting waving my family goodbye off to spend a Saturday full of winter fun at a fell an hour and a half’s drive away from here as I went back to the classroom like the rest of the study group. I tried not to think of the sun shining outside and the white snow reflecting the light, giving energy to those doing outdoors activities. I tried to think about the motives I have for taking this course and sitting inside on a beautiful Saturday. And I love to be on this course! Not just because I hope it will help me accomplish my goals. But also because I enjoy sitting and chatting with a fellow student about the short story (May Day) we were assigned and our interpretations, speculating about whether we were right or not.


But today, a Saturday in the end of March 2017, we weren’t just hanging around chatting and speculating around a novel. There was more grammar, academic communication and literature.

I continue to be amazed by language and it’s many different aspects.

And English philology is not just “English” to me anymore. It’s studying the methods for researching language from different points of view, learning and teaching and categorising. I used to have that relationship to Swedish during my studies, yes, but now I’m getting a hang of it again.

I realised we’ve now reached the point where we have sat through more than half of the contact lectures, but there’s still a lot of work ahead on this basic studies course (25 ECTS). I’m getting to a point where I’m thinking I now understand how little I know about this amazing subject. But I hope that’s a good sign!


I have developed a love for foreign language studies already as a kid, when writing letters to pen pals in faraway-countries. On our holiday to Catalonia a few weeks back, both my kids (9 and 11) went to have tennis lessons with a teacher who only spoke English. I ‘m glad, that especially my daughter, who just started learning English at school could get that kind of experience. I hope it taught her, that even with the little vocabulary that she now knows, she IS capable of communicating in a foreign language. I think she figured out that she doesn’t have to “stand by” and wait for a green light, (like the one in my picture taken in Catalonia) to allow her to use the few words that she knows. You start somewhere, and the most important thing in learning a language is to make good use of every little bit you know. That’s the philosophy I would like to spread as a (hopefully) future English language teacher.

EDIT: You can try learning phrasal verbs from videos. Here’s one example teaching phrasal verbs using BRING: English teaching videos



Speeches, essays, grammar and literature all go together

As adult students in the open university course, we don’t have contact studies that often. In the weekend we met on Friday evening and for the whole of Saturday.

On Friday evening we rushed through a 31 page Intonation course, – using printouts describing to us, how intonation affects the meaning of sentences or words. As a Finn, it’s not always easy to make a distinction between falling and rising tones and how they affect the meaning of a word, question or sentence. It takes some learning to understand where you can go wrong and what you can teach your future students to pay attention to.

Literature is also a topic of our studies. It’s interesting to study world classics and study the language, the symbolism and style, but it’s also amazing how literature can help us understand history and what life was like in another place, at another time. This month we learnt about modernism and read a couple of example novels, The Stranger by Kathrine Mansfield and Counterparts by James Joyce. Although I studied philology and literature before, I find it refreshing to go through some of the common academic techniques for analysing literature, like considering the setting, the narration and the language fabric. After we had discussed and analysed the novels we had read, I actually find I like the novels more. It’s after the discussions that I notice new aspects, symbolism, the complex characters and the many other pieces of the literary puzzle.

Before the meeting in the weekend we had all been writing academic essays on topics given to us and got our first peer-reviews before the workshop. At the workshops we started preparing for academic speeches on those same essay topics. We practised a 5 minute talk in groups, in fact the talks were about “Academic Talks”. Now the next task will be to make an outline for our own academic speeches before the next workshop, where we will be required to give 5 -minute speeches again, on our own this time. I’m a bit nervous thinking about that. I now know a lot about my topic, so filling 5 minutes won’t be hard. The difficulty lies in selecting the key points and keeping the time.

I’m mentally getting ready for creating the first outline for the speech, so I can practise before our next meeting.  I also have homework related to “Phrasal verbs“,  our topic in English Grammar. I’m really looking forward to learning new phrases. Then again working with topics like “the syntactic elements of structure of the verbal group” feels more tedious.

As I’m planning to be away on holiday next week, I have to work harder this week, to make up for the hours I’ll be leaving the books behind.

That’s mainly “what’s up” with my studies right now.

EDIT: I also had a pronunciation homework. Just read it aloud and uploaded it to Optima.