Why linguistic terminology can be useful and misnomers problematic

PART 1 Tense and aspect

What are tenses? And why is the answer not: all verb structures? How many tenses does English really have? And does it matter? What is the semantic relationship between verb form and time? What is time? What do we mean when we talk about time? How do we talk about time? And why should this be important?

In my introduction to the concept of the Verb Structure Circle I mentioned the technical definition of ‘tense’. Tense and aspect are two terms crucial to explaining, and in my opinion, understanding, the English verb structure system. I also noted that in ALL course books of English ALL verb structures are referred to as tenses and, as far as I can tell, ‘aspect’ is never used. Perfect and continuous forms are commonly related to as ‘tenses’ though they are actually referred to as ‘aspects’ in linguistic literature.

The reason I believe this issue to be important is because I believe understanding the difference could help understanding English verb structures better. Continue reading

Resources on Food, Diet, and Health

In this post I have listed some of the internet resources and literature I have read and looked at myself and would and can recommend for anybody interested in going into the issues of food and health more deeply. It is, of course, an incomprehensive list and totally selective.


There are loads of pages specifically interesting for dieticians. One is an American magazine:Today’s Dietician. We read one article from this website that was, admittedly, a little difficult. Nevertheless I would recommend students of nutrition, diet and health to browse through this website, especially the articles archive. Continue reading

MHH Dieticians Course Description

The idea for this course arose out of the realization that some of the patients dieticians will encounter (meet) in their future jobs might not speak German, and a good foundation of English could be useful in order to be able to communicate and advise speakers of other languages than German.

Therefore, the topics we will be dealing with in this course will circle around everything that has to do with food, diets, health and disease, but also dietician – patient communication. Continue reading

The Third Person Singular -s or: let’s talk about priorities

Recently I was shocked – if not really surprised – to hear that not much seems to have changed in some English classes of (German) schools. I learned about a fifth grader who was not doing very well in English. I asked what his problem seems to be and was told that he had made a lot of mistakes in his last test. Naturally, my next question was: well, what kind of mistakes, and was totally astonished as to the prime nature of his failure. Continue reading

Emails: Requests

An Example

These days I received an email from someone from a company that had asked me for a special English course. I had already spoken to someone else about the course and had a little background information. As I am quite busy, we will have to find a time that fits into my schedule, but I am interested in giving the course as it is a new company of a kind I haven’t taught at yet, so it could be an interesting challenge, and I am willing to squeeze it in. Continue reading


Last year, January 14, I wrote about one of my New Year resolutions: decluttering. Turns out, decluttering is a longer process than anticipated. Most difficult: to stop bringing new stuff in, though I believe I have gotten better. However, I have decided not to check in detail in case it turns out I have not been as successful as intended. I will just keep on trying. Continue reading

Order of Operations

Last week we had an interesting little debate about math education. It does happen every once in a while that we talk about maths, and I always find it interesting. I have quite a few mathematicians in my groups and in general like to know a little about my group participants’ fields of expertise. I also used to like maths in school before I had the wrong teachers. And yes, there is no doubt about it: your success in maths has little to do with your brain (or gender) and all with your maths teacher/s. Continue reading


One of my favorite webpages, and one I can strongly recommend to teachers and students of English alike is www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword, and here especially Kerry Maxwells collection of ‘BUZZWORDS’.

Buzzwords are newly formed or created terms that reflect upon different kinds of social phenomena or new fads and trends and thus are great for discussion. Additionally, from a language perspective, they offer insight into word formation processes. On the webpage is a whole list of new words and an archive going back several years.

Every once in a while I choose some I find interesting and believe (or hope) will trigger lively discussions. (see post May 2013) Continue reading

Happy New Year!

And another year has gone by….

I do not intend to lament the passage of time. However, I was a little shocked to find that my last New Year’s post felt pretty current (January 2014). For instance, I had written about the issues with Amazon. During the course of the year 2014, workers went on strike, also during the Christmas shopping season, so the topic is definitely still current.

Concerning my own shopping habits: I had intended to shop less, and I believe I did. However, I’m not going to check in detail as I am not good in keeping too many lists and diaries and accounts of my activities, and I don’t intend to. ‘Keep it simple and continue working on that’ is the closest to a New Year’s resolution I will get. Well, maybe one more: stop procrastinating! But that’s it, definitely.