Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tools - Interactive Gapfill Exercise Code Generator

For teacher bloggers etc

This has now been superseded by Version 2 which has been well tried and tested and I recommend you use it rather than this one.

With this generator you can make interactive gapfill exercises for your blog or web page. If you want to make an exercise without the interactivity, you can use just the HTML (without the buttons) and the CSS. You could also use this for generating worksheets, but you'd be better going to my Multi-function gapfill generator
  1. Use the program to automatically generate a gapfill exercise
  2. The program will also generate the HTML and Javascript code you need for this particular exercise and it's answers
  3. Copy the rest of the Javascript and CSS code into your blog post or web page
Note - I've made some important changes to the instructions since this was first published.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Beyond 1,2,3 - Conditionals in The Little Prince

In a recent edition of GrammarGirl, the 1,2,3 system of looking at conditionals was criticised because it couldn't account for sentences like these:
  • If he died fighting, why didn’t they tell us about it?
  • If Squiggly knows the answer, he isn’t saying
These don't seem to me to be very common types of conditional, both of them meaning something like 'if it's the case that' and being examples of what I call Pseudo conditionals, where the result doesn't logically follow from the condition, which I've recently written about in - Beyond 1,2,3 - Conditionals that don't fit the system.
But it's impossible to know how common this type is unless you have access to the sort of data (and the skills to process it) that linguists have. So I thought it might be interesting to see how often these types might occur in a well known novel.
The Little Prince is known all over the world, is nice and short, and the text is available online for anyone to check that I've done this properly. I've taken every instance of sentences including if (there are about 70) and tried to categorise them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Beyond 1, 2, 3 - The conditionals that don't fit into the system


It's long been fashionable to criticise the system of teaching conditionals where we categorise them as 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc, but so far nobody seems to have come up with a better method for teaching conditionals that everyone agrees on.
One of the arguments against the 0,1,2,3 system is that there are a lot of sentences with if-clauses that can't be categorised as 1st, 2nd or 3rd Conditionals.
I think a lot of this criticism is based on a misunderstanding. The 0,1,2,3 system is not meant to be a system of analysing every conceivable if-clause, but a way to help learners form valid conditional sentences from quite an early stage in their learning.
Partly in response to this criticism, in this post I want to look at some of those types of sentence with if-clauses that don't fit in to the standard 0,1,2,3 way of looking at conditionals. I have two aims here:
  • To show that a lot of the so-called conditionals that cannot be categorised as Zero, 1st, 2nd, 3rd or Mixed Conditional are not what I would call true conditionals at all, but what I'm going to call pseudo conditionals
  • To show that there are several fairly common and easily recognisable patterns among these pseudo conditionals