The Power of Words

10th May 2013 at 01:00


It's the way wot `e wrote it

Dialect can be used in novels to signify a number of characteristics. In Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, for example, characters speak in different accents, even though they all come from London, to denote their place in society.

When the Artful Dodger tells Oliver, "I know a `spectable old gentleman as lives there (in London), wot'll give you lodgings for nothink", his accent reveals that he is a child of the streets.

Whereas Mr Brownlow's advice to Oliver, when he takes him in, reflects his standing in the upper class: "I want you to pay great attention, my boy . I shall talk to you without any reserve; because I am sure you are well able to understand me, as many older persons would be."

Most novels are written in Standard English, but in Oliver Twist, Dickens uses accents as a moral barometer, not only to reveal people's origins but also their class, intellect and attitude.

In the book A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, dialect is used in a similar way, with servant girl Becky speaking very differently from rich student Sara.

All dialects are represented in the phonetic alphabet, where symbols represent sounds. So phonetics is a clever way of emphasising correct pronunciation and helping young children to understand not only Standard English but also a range of accents and dialects.


Brush up on key terms in the English language with a guide from Steffster. bit.lyEnglishGuide

Develop children's English skills and creative writing with this interactive activity. bit.lyWonderfulWordsActivity

Explore peer pressure and friendship using this adaptable lesson plan from TESConnect partner Beatbullying. bit.lyPeerPressureLesson

Teach morals and life lessons through fiction with mediadave's lesson plan focusing on The Tortoise and the Hare. bit.lyTortoiseAndHareStory

Explore safety in e-learning with icklekid's guide to basic information technology skills. bit.lyELearningGuide


An immigrant makes a Marks

When Michael Marks arrived in Leeds in the North of England from what is now Belarus in 1882, fleeing anti-Semitism, he was penniless and knew scarcely a word of English. But a chance meeting enabled the Polish-born immigrant to borrow pound;5 and start the Penny Bazaar that was the forerunner of his later empire, British retail chain Marks amp; Spencer.

Haberdashery and hardware were sold from a trestle table with the slogan "Don't ask the price, it's a penny".

Marks expanded to run five Penny Bazaars in Leeds, Castleford, Wakefield, Warrington and Birkenhead, and in 1894 formed the now famous partnership with Tom Spencer.

Now the company has opened its archive to the public at the Michael Marks Building - home to the Marks in Time exhibition - at the University of Leeds. But it has also launched an online learning resource for UK schools to make use of the company's collection of more than 70,000 historical objects, photos and documents.

The scheme has been piloted by two schools in the UK. One teacher used the Company Archives eLearning Hub to support lessons in history, careers, and personal, social and health education. She also used original advertisements to teach her class about the value of money. "This was a fantastic success. It allowed me to bring lessons to life," she said.

Visit the Mamp;S Company Archives profile on TESConnect at bit.lyMarksSpen


What creates a Muntz or a Malfoy?

Life seems to surround us with bullies. But you can use fictional characters in stories, films and television to explore the reasons behind their bullying behaviour.

In animated sitcom The Simpsons, for example, the classic bully character Nelson Muntz (pictured) puts on a tough front and mocks others with a "Ha- ha!" But then we learn that he comes from a broken home and has a delicate soul, illustrating some of the personal challenges that bullies may face.

In your classroom you could look at Harry Potter's ghastly cousin Dudley Dursley, as well as his parents Petunia and Vernon, and the reasons that they bully. Are they envious of Harry? Then there is Potter's arch-rival at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy.

Miss Trunchbull in Matilda is a terrifying principal who felt sure that her bullying behaviour would never be detected. Yet she finally gets her comeuppance thanks to Matilda and her strength of mind.

Actor and writer David Walliams explores bullies and bullying behaviour in his stories, most notably in Billionaire Boy.

In most examples, good triumphs over bad and the bullies end up losing the long-term war - although they usually win a few deliciously nasty battles on the way. The bigger story, of course, is that the bully has often had a sad, dark experience that has made them the way they are.


Find out how Matilda was brought to the stage with a lesson pack from TESConnect partner Royal Shakespeare Company. bit.lyMatildaInClass

Explore language and literacy through the study of Oliver Twist with a comprehensive unit of work from debstreet. Ideal for children aged 8-9. bit.lyOliverTwistUnit

Develop young children's early sound recognition and language skills with jambam's set of phonics games and activities. bit.lyPhonicsGames

Start a discussion on bullying with a video from Teachers TV designed for the classroom. bit.lyTeachersTVantibullying.

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