The Oxford English Dictionary is 90 years old

Contributed by the Oxford English Dictionary team.

Be part of our celebrations, starting with a new word appeal: ‘Words Where You Are’

Over the next twelve months, we will be marking the Oxford English Dictionary’s 90th birthday with a host of exciting initiatives.  A wealth of information celebrating the past, present, and future of one of the largest dictionaries in the world can be found at our OED90 website.

Oxford English Dictionary word appeal – Words Where You Are

For state capture, tenderpreneur and expropriation without compensation to pop up in conversation, you probably need to have frequented the South African political landscape of the recent past. South Africa’s rich cultural diversity has, however, birthed a long history of amalgamations and borrowed words from all 11 official languages, and then some.

Where else but in our beloved country would tsotsis who hide out in dongas and smoke dagga make you sommer deurmekaar, would you be served sosaties and boerewors at a braai, or stop at a robot on your way to get your papsak from the local shebeen to help swallow your walkie talkies and slap chips? Lekker, bru.

It’s likely all of us can recall a moment when a word we’ve known and have been using for years at home turns out to be completely baffling to people from another English-speaking region.  While many such words are common in speech, some are rarely written down and therefore can easily escape the attention of dictionary editors.

The OED is trying to create the most comprehensive, accurate, and up to date picture of how and where these words are used, and we need your help.  So, wherever you are, we want to hear about words and expressions that are distinctive to where you live or where you are from.  Send them to our website or join the conversation on Twitter at #wordswhereyouare.

Michael Proffitt, Chief Editor of the OED, says “The OED’s comprehensive record of the English language is also an index of sorts to people’s tireless creativity and diversity over many centuries. Regional words are among the most distinctive, inventive, and evocative in the language. They can create a sense of belonging – of childhood, family, or home – or a sense of difference.  Because many regional words occur in speech more than in writing, they don’t always get the recognition they deserve in dictionaries.

“Tell us about the words you think are specific to your part of the world, and help us improve the dictionary’s description of English where you are.”

Phillip Louw, Dictionary Content Development Manager at OUP South Africa said that through detailed analysis of large text collections, “Oxford’s dictionary-makers have kept an eagle eye on South African English as it’s used in a variety of genres – fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. The OED’s initiative gives us a chance to find those hidden gems that are part of everyday conversations: from braais, to lekgotlas, to after (tears) parties. It’s a chance for South Africans to showcase the wit and linguistic innovation we use to make sense of our shared reality.”

Making the impossible attainable

[This article has been contributed by Minda Marshall of Lectorsa.]

I’m just here to ask you to do what must be done, to do your part … to make the possible attainable.” These are the inspiring words of Mohamed Sidibay.

Mohamed Sidibay was born in Sierra Leone and at age five his country was engulfed in a civil war.  Mohamed was kidnapped by rebels and forced to become a child soldier. One night he fled and an Italian priest gave him shelter and connected him to an NGO that links students and teachers worldwide through technology. “Education has offered me choices, chances and challenges.  I appreciate the gift of education. I believe that even if we give people the whole world, that world could crumble. But if we give them an education, they can rebuild their world,” Mohamed wrote in an article published in Africa Renewal in 2017. Mohamed’s life story is truly inspiring and once again proves that education is the key to a better, brighter future for all.

I have worked in the educational field for the last 30 years and have been in the privileged position to experience that feeling of pure joy when a child realises his/her full potential.  When they start with their first lesson on LAB-on-line (Lectorsa’s flagship solution) they are oftentimes nervous, some even more so after seeing their first report, but as they continue to engage the system and see their own progress, there is not only an increase in their results but also in their confidence.  This is still one of the most satisfying dimensions of the work we do – seeing the change that takes place within a person who realises… “Yes, I can do this!”

Change is clearly visible – we equip future leaders with the right set of skills to excel in the 21st century and beyond, but more importantly, we remind them that they are the authors of their own destiny.  At Lectorsa, we believe that you are born with everything you need to be exceptional.

For this reason, we also applaud Andria Zafirakou, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize award, for being a fellow solutioneer. She has helped change the lives of students in one of the UK’s poorest areas, giving them a high level of confidence and a strong chance at a better future. The responsibility we carry for a better future is clear: You and I must become the change!  Mohamed and Andria are but two examples of what can be achieved through education. The importance of their journey is the message we have to receive… It starts with us.

Our vision at Lectorsa is to have our solutions available for EVERY student in all nations, in order to support, improve and develop their Visual Processing and Cognitive Development Factor. This will increase neuroplasticity and enhance creative thinking patterns to develop new knowledge for better solutions.  These are exciting times…because across the globe people are busy making the possible attainable. We can change the world … together.

Bettermarks® – Make Maths easy

Having a lot of problems is, well, a problem. When it comes to Maths however, teachers will tell you that you can never have too many problems as practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, learners are often not motivated to practice Maths, as often they feel they will never grasp the concepts, or they don’t know where their knowledge gaps are. This leads to Maths teachers having to spend time on intervention strategies, or for parents to pay for expensive extra lessons which don’t necessarily provide the required direction –  sometimes all learners do is solve problem after problem with the hope that they will eventually ‘get it’.

Enter Bettermarks®, a sharp online platform for Maths that employs very sophisticated technology in order for learners to access personalised learning. Bettermarks® takes adaptive learning to the next level – it is a truly personalised platform which is complimented by how easy it is to use by both teacher and learner.

Closing the gaps

What makes Bettermarks® stand out is that learners get real time feedback at every stage, it gives specific feedback, and even gives the option to access the textbook if necessary. This turns mistakes into learning opportunities as it allows for errors in thinking to be diagnosed immediately, and then remedied, before a crucial test or exam.

There are thousands of questions and the adaptive technology checks the thousands of competencies needed across the curriculum to flag any knowledge gaps, and then provides learners with further exercises to practice and master topics. Real time feedback and self-monitoring helps motivate learners and gives them confidence.

Teachers can access learners’ results and progress via reports and then apply hands-on intervention if necessary – or assign further exercises via the platform. The platform will keep recommending exercises to learners to fill knowledge gaps until the teacher is assured the problem has been solved, and the teacher can then close the gap on the platform’s back-end.

Track and progress

Teachers can use Bettermarks® in many different ways to help them monitor learner progress and difficulties, and to assist them in their progress. Features include the option of building worksheets from the question banks and distributing them to all learners – or individual learners – depending on the need. The questions can also be formulated into a test (which prevents tips and textbook access and is password protected). The platform marks all worksheets and tests automatically which saves the teacher a significant amount of time.

One of the outstanding features is that Bettermarks® is developed to test learners’ skills in answering a Maths problem – not just multiple choice. Depending on the question, learners may have to divide blocks into fractions, draw graphs, or indicate points on a number line, amongst many other practical applications.

The teacher dashboard gives a teacher a one screen overview of learners’ progress, and it also conveniently highlights areas in which all learners are struggling, thereby making whole class intervention strategies clear.

This easy-to-use platform is a class act and a true asset to the classroom. Learners pay only R150 per calendar year subscription and teacher access is free with every class set purchased. Request a demo today by emailing za.digitalsupport@macmillaneducation.co.za or calling 011 731 3359.