Gabriel the helper

Gabriel was able to guide the elf out of the wilderness of the Gorgola forest. It was a two days’ journey, but he was able to make it because of his familiarity with the woods. In fact, Gabriel had mastered martial arts, and so it was easy to fight off the remnants of Garland’s imp army. They almost had run out of food, but just at the last moment, they found a blueberry bush.

Gabriel lifted his knife into the air. “Onward!” said he. Now, it wasn’t about the amethyst. Gabriel had embarked on a new adventure, and nothing was going to spoil the fun. He asked Poxig about elves and their habits. After all, he had never encountered an elf, nor one so well-traveled as Poxig of Excelsior.

“Do elves ever laugh? I’ve never seen you laugh once!” he commented.

“We do laugh, but we elves never smile unless we mean it. We think that it is fatuous to smile if you are not happy,” said Poxig.

Gabriel asked many more questions about elves.

“Do you guys actually help Santa Claus, or is that a myth perpetuated by the commercial syndicate?”

“Actually, I’m sorry, my friend. We’ve never heard of this man,” said Poxig.

“Why do you have pointy ears?” asked Gabriel. “Are you from outer space or something?”

“If you keep asking questions like that, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble, I’m afraid,” replied Poxig.

“Say! Since you have amethyst, you must have some other type of gem. Can I see your collection?” asked Gabriel.

“I make it my business not to show anyone my valuables. It’s a bad policy that can get you robbed,” said Poxig.

Gabriel could sense the elf’s irritation, and so he decided to walk in silence for a while. He realized that he had not told his parents that he was leaving, and they would probably be looking for him.

“I should go now. Gorgola ends here. You should travel this trail to head to Marginalia.”

“Thank you, young sir. Please accept this as a debt of gratitude,” Poxig added, and handed him a pocket knife.

“Wow! Gee willakers! Thanks for this!” Gabriel could not help but smile.

“Bye!” and suddenly he disappeared into the woods.

Poxig finally understood the Latin phrase from Sir Binural: “Puer magnum est.”

Gabe1234

Poxig and the boy

Poxig encountered the worst that the woods of Gorgola had to offer. He had eaten some bad blueberries, and nausea had overtaken his senses. As for the gnome, he was nowhere to be found. But straight through the underbrush, Poxig observed an amazing sight. A young boy was there, dressed as a pretend knight.

“You there, boy!” Poxig yelled. “What’s your name?”

“I am Gabriel,” the boy replied. “And who might you be?”

“I am Poxig the elf from Marginalia,” he said. “I have been travelling for many days with no relief in sight. Do you know these woods?”

“I do!” Gabriel replied. “I was born here, and I have been wandering these woods my whole life.”

“Can you show me the way to Marginalia?” Poxig asked.

“Of course! But you have to give me something in return,” said the boy.

“Name anything!” Poxig said out of desperation.

“You must bring me an amethyst for my rock collection,” he said.

Poxig had no amethyst to speak of. But he took out a purple bauble from his belt, one that he had acquired from a gift shop in Eyrrf, which was made of glass.

“Here is the amethyst that you desire,” Poxig said.

The boy could not contain his excitement. “Give it here!” he said.

Poxig had fooled the boy. If it had not been for the gnomic pronouncement, he would not have trust Gabriel. The boy merrily showed him the trail that would lead him back to Marginalia. Poxig could only think of the Latin phrase he had heard from Sir Binural: mirabile dictu. 

“What does that mean?” asked Gabriel.

“Wonderful to relate…” replied the relieved elf.

Poxig & Gabriel

The reform movement

I am beginning to be influenced by a major change in ESL at this point. It is the switch to communicative language approach which is put forth by sociolinguist Dell Hymes. The weirdest thing about this is that the reform movement is simply about what we as ESL teachers should have been doing all along. That is, get students to respond to input in the classroom.

I have instituted a number of ideas for communicative language teaching CLT:

  1. Long wait times. Allow there to be uncomfortable silences.
  2. Constantly stop to ask if there are questions.
  3. Give the students a checklist of questions to ask
  4. Stop getting in the way of student input: shut up and allow them to speak.
  5. Minimize Teacher Talk Time (TTT)
  6. Maximize Student Talk Time (STT)

Get the student’s attention without being overtly officious. The minute that you lose the temper, that is the moment that CLT breaks down. I have been trying to institute these in my ESL classroom with varying success. Sometimes, there is just no output. In that case, I revert to TTT. But more often than not, I try to implement these CLT objectives.

I got so many yawns with the top-down approach. When it is all about what I know, the students tend to tune out. But when I try a bottom-up format, suddenly they are more engaged than they ever were.

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Into the woods

The woods looked like satin sheets of green, and the way became more obscure. The gnome had ceased his chanting, but now troubled him with silence. He would only accompany Poxig as far as the river Hedron. Suddenly, Sir Binural erupted in poetic muse:

“It is the river of time’s forgotten pleasures;

A veritable stream of Lethe.

The Lotos-Eaters live there,

Betwixt the shades of the earth’s bosom.”

Suddenly, Poxig remembered that it was at Hedron that he had parted ways with Lakfi. That meant that he could follow the river North to get out of the woods and back to Eyrrf. But he was no closer to his goal of Marginalia.

Now he was trapped in a forested maze that continued into eternity. His hopes of returning to Marginalia seemed less and less probable. He would have to venture alone into the terrible wood in  order to get the sacred orb to the king.

The forested maze was not a panacea. It was a terrible mass of confusing pathways that led nowhere. But Poxig felt that he could see some sunlight peeking through the trees. He could see some optimism because the river Hedron meant he was halfway to his destination.

“Won’t you lead me through the dark wood?” asked Poxig to Sir Binural.

“Tempus fugit,” said the miniature sprite.

Poxig thought that he was trapped near the river Hedron, and it might be his only escape route after he parted ways with the elderly gnome. But he remembered the glint of sunlight that would lead him west when the sun set, and he was convinced that he would reach Marginalia unharmed.

forest scene

 

Trapped in Gorgola

He had been without food for two days in the Gorgola forest. Sir Binural, with all his good intentions, did not lead him out of the woods, but agreed to accompany him to the river’s edge. During the trip, Binural began to chant in Latin.

“Puer magnum est!” he yelled.

Poxig had to admit, the gnome was getting on his nerves. The gnome had offered him a scrap of his food, but Poxig could not bear to eat some scarabs that the gnome had caught. He puzzled at the Latin and tried to remember his training in the halls of the great library on Mt. Crump and his teacher Jongleur.

“This loosely translates as  ‘The boy is great,’” Poxig thought. Why was the gnome  insisting that he be childlike? Perhaps this was a test from Releven to prove that he could survive in the most abstemious of conditions.

Here he was, more tired and exhausted from travelling aimlessly than he had ever been. His Latin was failing him amongst a Latin scholar gnome who was starting to irk him to his core.

He would have to gather up his allies (all gone to Marginalia) , and when he returned it would be more humbling work for him, working as a field grunt, far from his glorious goal of returning the orb to the rightful owner.

The possibility of catching a disease got more likely the longer that he was in the forest. Yet, he had to make it back to Marginalia, and take his business to the king. Perhaps his possession of the sacred orb would gain him an audience…

Poxig lost

The gnome

Poxig wandered over to the tree root where he assumed the gnome lived. It was a short walk, but a long thought process. What if the gnome could not help him? What if he were stranded in the Gorgola woods? He would have to find some other means of finding comestibles.

He called to the tree, where he was expecting the gnome sage to live. “Binural?” he asked over and over. Still, there was no response. Now, he was beginning to think that Meerschaum had deceived him. Just when he was about to give up, he heard a gnomish voice.

“Hiyo there!” said a minuscule voice. “Hiyo!”

Poxig heard the voice but couldn’t tell where it was coming from. “Where are you?”

Poxig heard a buzzing sound and looked overhead. There was a gnome riding on a hummingbird’s back. “Where be ye from, wayfaring stranger? I am Binural.”

Poxig saw that there was a glyph on the tree. “Is this your name?” he said,  pointing to the glyph.

The buzzing of the hummingbird’s wings came to a halt. In fact, he wasn’t sure if the gnome was nearby.

“Ye elf, ye are in the wrong way. Vendigo lives around here after dark. You are looking through the dark glass with Eber.”

Poxig scratched his head. He knew about Wendigo, but he couldn’t tell who Eber was or what this tiny talk-a-lot was doing. All he knew is that the gnome was trying to warn him of the werewolf.

“I am Poxig of Excelsior. Please kindly tell me, Sir Binural, where the road is that leads to Marginalia?”

Binural huffed and stammered. He couldn’t be coaxed to give a clear sentence. “First, find you the Naughright. See Eber through the dark glass. He will send you a missive.”

binural

Poxig and the miniature person

After Poxig crossed the Gorgola river, he went through a strange interlude. All of his food supplies extinguished, and he near extreme exhaustion,  he wandered near the Gorgola forest.  He took up the search for vittles,  but found nothing but inedible roots. He began to be very hungry, and lonely.

Poxig wondered what would become of Lakfi, or whether or not he would starve out here in the wilderness. For now, it was clear that he would have to scrape by on his own. He was concerned about where he would sleep for that evening.

The sun began to set, and it was getting cold. Poxig began to gather kindling in order to build a fire. He could hear the jeweled scarabs in the trees. The fire soon blazed hot and there was a few nuts that Poxig had collected from the local flora that he munched on while watching the fire.

It became clear that he would have to return to the city of Marginalia, and look for a chance to use his newfound skills in Eyrrfish to help the diplomats who lived there. Perhaps he could get a sinecure and live comfortably the rest of his days. But this was beyond his imagination at this point. It was still likely that he would starve out here in the wilderness.

He nodded off to sleep under the beta tree, and began to dream of elven women. While he was asleep, he heard a small voice, as if it could have come from a mouse. It said, “Wake up, sir. You are sleeping on my house.” Poxig thought that it was a dream, but when he stirred to consciousness, he saw a small gnome-like person, standing right next to his head, which was resting on a pile of leaves.

“Wake up!” he heard again. Surely enough, the miniature person stood in front of his face, and Poxig could perceive that he was irate about something or other. He immediately stood up on the forest floor. “Who might you be little fellow?” Poxig asked.

“I am Meerschaum, the sprite. I don’t know who you are, but you had better move because the entrance to my abode is blocked. I have returned from hunting insects, and now I wish to see my wife and pet mouse!” said Meerschaum.

“I am sorry, sir. But I have never seen a sentient creature of your size,” Poxig continued. “How am I certain that I am not still dreaming?”

“Pick me  up in your hand! Then, please put me down, for I am in a terrible hurry, ” said the sprite.

Poxig lowered his hand and the miniature man walked upon it. He raised him to his face. “You’re a cute little sprite. Can you possibly tell me where I can get some vittles? I’m terribly famished.”

“Here are some scarabs that I caught last night,” said Meerschaum. “Now please kindly put me down, and remove yourself from my front door.”

Poxig looked at the place that he was sitting, and carved into the side of the beta tree was a small almost imperceptible green door, which he surmised was the entrance to Meerschaum’s domicile.

“One more thing before you go!” said Poxig, placing the minute personage on the ground. “I’m lost in these woods, which you must be familiar with because you live hereabouts. Please inform me of the way to Marginalia. I , too, would like to return home.”

“I’ve never been out of these woods,” said Meerschaum. “But ask the sage of our village, and he should be able to tell you where to go. His name is Binural, and he lives just over the knob over yonder.”

“Thank you kind sir. I am quite sorry for blocking the entrance to your residence,” said Poxig.

“And I apologize for disturbing your slumber. But these are weird woods, and we sprites must be wary of wolves and falcons. I mustn’t be seen by these predatory beasts. And so, good day,” he uttered, and sped swiftly into the beta tree.

Poxig thought that he would try to find another miniature person here, as he assumed that this was a sort of gnome village. He had heard about gnomes, but didn’t think that they actually existed. Now, he would be sure to question even the most basic assumptions if experience dictated otherwise.

miniature

The locket

Since Poxig and Lakfi set out from the great library, all had gone wrong. The Eyrrfish poets were finally authorized to publish their publication in Eyrrfish. Of course, Brad Conrad was the editor. The only reason that they found this out was because Lakfi hypnotized a villager and forced a confession from him. These were dark arts that he controlled.

Now, they entered Eyrrf with trepidation. These people were half orcish, and so it was likely that they would be arrested and tried in a kangaroo court. The houses were built into the side of the mountain and they were surrounded by brush and very hard to see. Poxig found himself amongst a maze of underbrush and underground caves.

Brad was sitting underneath the ‘alpha’ tree, just as Jongleur’s sequence had predicted. He was reading a volume lost black magician lore, turning the pages with mild amusement. He looked every bit to be his father’s son, except for the vampire  teeth.

Poxig motioned Lakfi over to the alpha tree. “We’ve found him!” he exclaimed.

“Excuse us, but are you Brad Conrad, son of Carl Conrad?” he asked.

“Who told you about me?” Brad questioned. Brad looked visibly irritated. He shut his book and began to walk in the direction of the forest.

“We’ve come all this way because of a promise that we made to  your dad!” Lakfi shouted.

“How did you find this place? I came here to not be found!” rejoined Brad.

“Please stay awhile, sir,” said Poxig.

“Don’t try to inveigle me! I know this forest well, and I can live here quite safely for some time!” Brad yelled as he was moving away from them.

“What about this?” Poxig withdrew the locket from his vest. “Do you recognize this?”

Brad stopped and turned about face. He inched closer to them in order to get a glimpse of the locket before his eyes. It was as if he had never seen such a curio like that one, except that he appeared to be transfixed on the object.

“I haven’t seen this in twenty years!” he said.

“It belonged to your father, Carl,” Lakfi said. “He gave it to us just before he expired in the sun. Your father wanted you to have it.”

“I left home long before he became a vampire,” Brad said. “In fact, I never knew my father but as an honest man.”

“He came to see the error of his ways, and now he dwells in the halls of Releven,” said Poxig.

“We have endured  much hardship so that we could fulfill a promise to your father. But now that it is done, tell us why you have come to this charnelhouse of evil,” said Lakfi.

” It was after some time, when I left home because we had had an argument. Father and I couldn’t see eye to eye. He wanted me to take over the manse on the hill, and be its proprietor, and I wanted nothing but to set out on my own and fulfill my destiny as an Eyrrfish poet,” said Brad.

“Aha! So that is why you are here amongst the heathen!” said Lakfi.

“Yes, so to speak. I came here on the eve of my father’s birthday, determined to stay and write in Eyrrfish. It was then that I secured a copy editor job with the local newspaper, and I have worked my way up to the position of editor.”

“Well, then, you have done well for yourself. But you know that these Eyrrfish publications only publish fake news,” said Poxig.

“Your father would still be proud to see what you’ve become,” said Lakfi.

“Please take this,” said Poxig, handing him the locket. “We promised your father.”

Poxig felt such glad tiding in the midst of the Eyrrfish poet. He felt such a sense of accomplishment to have been able to fulfill his vow to the dying Conrad. Now, there was naught to do except return home again.

Lakfi would accompany him just as far as the Gorgola river, and no more. The two would have to part ways for now, and seek their separate destinies beyond the hill country of Ulteria.

Locket

The sequence

It became obvious that the longer they were entertained by Jongleur, the less chance that there was that they would learn Eyrrfish. Actually, Jongleur was the purveyor of the wildest and  most absurd ideas. Sometimes, they would call him out on his buffoonery, and he would respond with : “Capital!”

They pored over manuscripts of the Eyrrfish language, depending on Jongleur to translate. It didn’t quite make sense, but they continued to make a reasonable effort at translating the language. The problem was that without Dr. Unne, they couldn’t make heads or tails out of what they were reading.

They were outspoken about their approval of his methods, but there were so many problems. The clockwork owl kept circling above their heads and screeching in French, “Veuillez boire du bon café!” It was most unsettling. There were so many texts before them, that they began to be confused as if the papers were a twisted gyre of nonsense.

Over time, they had begun to make something of Jongleur’s encrypted code. They noticed that it was connected to his explanation of Koine Greek. ‘Α’ or ‘alpha’ signified the beginning of the code chain, and of course, ‘Ω’ or ‘omega’ was the end of it. In between they saw that each letter of the Greek alphabet corresponded to a separate idea.

The code-breakers eventually saw that this could be the way to find Brad. They would trick Jongleur into revealing the location of Brad, and then, see to it that the Eyrrfish language was translated into plain English. Afterwards, they would give the locket to Brad, and then leave for the Cardia Islands.

At that point, it would be necessary for Poxig to return to Ulteria, with the idea of getting the sacred amethyst, which would allow him to pass unharmed to Elrick the half-prince’s domain. He would regain his composure, and take Lakfi just until the border.

 

 

Alpha

Crawford grammar

 

The William Crawford grammar is a great tool for those of us in the ESL classroom. Especially with regards to corpora in the classroom, there are many reasons to employ these techniques in the ESL classroom.  Probably the most important one is that it helps students form their collocations, and can aid in the formation of phrasal verbs.

Crawford has the following to say about the use of corpus linguistics in the classroom:

“Corpus linguistics is a method of describing language by reference to
large amounts of language that occurs in specific contexts. Scholars
have used corpus description to gain new insights into areas such as
language change and variation, sociolinguistics, lexicology, and stylistics,
to name a few (see McEnery, Xiao, & Tono, 2006, for a good description
of corpus linguistics and the various ways that corpora have been used in applied linguistics).” (Crawford, 2013)

I have used these techniques in the classroom with varying success. It is hard to get students to believe that looking up various collocations in a free website like ‘MICASE corpus‘ is in the interest of the student. But after some work, it seems like this begins to set in, and the work becomes easier on their end.

Using free corpora can be a great way to get students engaged who normally would not be able to get this stuff. In fact, it seems that the corpora that is most useful are not online databases, but the CD-ROM that go with dictionaries, such as Collins COBUILD, and corpora like it.

I will continue to develop ESL lessons that emphasize corpus linguistics, because it is an optimal way to learn language. Also, students like to use the computer to learn! Please click the ‘contact’ tab to comment.

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