Tag Archives: OUP

tHE September 2019 issue of ‘the mighty pen’ IS out

The latest issue (September 2019) issue of The Mighty Pen is now available for download.

As usual, it is packed with information, relevant to education. An overview of the activities of ADESSA is included in this issue. It is also good to see advertisements and articles about several ADESSA members, including Pearson, Edupac, Snapplify, Oxford University Press and Eduboard.

Zoom In interactive content now available through Snapplify

An exclusive partnership between leading local educational publisher, Oxford University Press South Africa, and global edtech company, Snapplify, has made the publisher’s interactive content series, Zoom In, easily available to thousands of learners. Both Snapplify and Oxford University Press are members of ADESSA and it is great to see strong partnerships between its members.

Covering the major South African subjects for Grades 10–12, in both English and Afrikaans, the Zoom In interactive products are designed to help learners tackle tough exam concepts, giving them the confidence to conquer all their exam questions. Interactive resources are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for self-assessment, as well as increased engagement, leading to deeper understanding of the subject matter.

For those signed up to Snapplify’s e-learning platform, Engage, free samples are downloadable, with all additional content available to check out via the digital library. The full series is also available to purchase by individual learners (through Engage or Snapplify’s online store), or in bulk via a school-wide licence.

‘Snapplify is committed to improving access to quality digital educational content, so we’re especially pleased to be distributing the Zoom In series, which really takes digital study to the next level. Using a range of interactive features, such as simulations, animations, games and activities with immediate feedback, videos, and more, Zoom In truly provides learners with the opportunity to get to grips with key concepts in the curriculum,’ said Snapplify’s Operations Director, Mark Seabrook.

The launch of the series comes at an exciting time, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that all public schools will adopt digital education over the next six years – a project in which Snapplify and other stakeholders have been actively involved.

Email education@snapplify.com to chat about your specific needs and how we can work together.

The curriculum support that dictionaries provide

The following article has been contributed by Oxford University Press South Africa (a member of ADESSA).

We’ve come a long way since the first historical dictionary for general use, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), was published more than 90 years ago. Before that, dictionaries were often no more than word lists covering a certain subject and representing a limited pool of speakers, for instance speakers of British English in a specific academic field. As such, many early dictionaries were bilingual (two languages) and served the need to translate words from one language to another, for example when translating scientific texts from Latin to English.

The monolingual (one language) OED’s mission was to present a snapshot of the English language throughout history, and in fulfilling that mission it has accumulated more than 600 000 words used in many world Englishes (English as it is spoken in different geographical locations on the planet), going back 1000 years. It gives the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of each of these words and traces their history through some 3 million quotations.

The dictionaries of today are more than tools for checking meaning, spelling and pronunciation, however. They can be tailored to a specific market and for a specific role, for example school dictionaries that not only contain the basic vocabulary that learners need to know in order to understand what is said in the classroom and grasp the meaning of terms in their textbooks, but also provide critical curriculum support so that learners will succeed in their tests and exams.

Twenty-first century technology has played a crucial role in opening up possibilities for selecting the right vocabulary for the target market, such as schools. Dictionary-making software and the availability of corpora (collections of texts, for example school textbooks and literature) in electronic format have made it possible for educational publishers to include the words which the school curriculum determines that every learner should know.

Studies on the switch from Outcomes-based Education (OBE) as contained in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) to the current Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) confirm that the shift has resulted in ‘a much more detailed level of specification of content’ (What’s in the CAPS package? – Umalusi). In other words, the new curriculum specifies the ‘exact scope and depth of the content that is to be taught and assessed’. This translates to learners knowing the terminology prescribed by the curriculum and understanding what each term means and how to apply it.

Take, for example, the natural sciences (physical sciences and life sciences) and the social sciences (geography and history). A good South African school dictionary should include curriculum words for physical sciences (such as equilibrium, stoichiometry, vector) and life sciences (such as biosphere, photosynthesis, taxonomy). It is also a no-brainer that subjects like geography and history would be more country-specific and that curriculum terms would reflect burning issues, for example spatial distribution, sustainable development and indigenous knowledge systems for geography and apartheid, civil resistance and nationalism for history.

Mathematics – a subject many learners find challenging – has a unique terminology and has even been described as ‘n separate ‘language’ that schoolkids need to learn. Imagine being asked to “write rational numbers as terminating or recurring decimals” (CAPS Mathematics, FET phase) but being clueless as to what that means. The South African curriculum specifies the terms each learner should be familiar with in order to advance to the next level, and a good school dictionary should support learners by providing the correct terminology and clear definitions and/or example sentences.

Science and maths are obvious examples, but the same is true for all subjects. Consider literature, for example. The South African curriculum specifies the basic vocabulary learners need to know in order to carry out a critical analysis of a literary text, including words such as consonance, enjambment and nemesis. This type of vocabulary is known as a metalanguage, which according to Lexico (powered by Oxford) means ‘a form of language or set of terms used for the description or analysis of another language’.

A dictionary supporting the school curriculum should also contain instruction words used in tests and exams. These include words such as evaluate, organise and extract. Learners may have studied hard and have all the knowledge a subject requires, but if they don’t understand what is asked of them, their marks may never reflect their abilities.

Moreover in South Africa, learners from non-English home-language backgrounds are expected to cross over to English as their Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) in Grade 4. This means that they have to read, speak and write English in all their subjects. International studies such as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have shown just how much of a challenge this has proved to be for the majority of South African learners, with our country ranking last in a list of 50 participants. However, help is available in the form of curriculum-savvy bilingual dictionaries that make code-switching (flipping from one language to another) a useful way of acquiring the necessary vocabulary fast.

Considering all the reasons above, choosing a dictionary offering the right kind of curriculum support may be one of the best things you can do to help your child succeed at school … and beyond!

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.”