[Foundation-l] Fate of "Simple English"

Robert Scott Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Sun Feb 26 16:09:41 UTC 2006

Ray Saintonge wrote:

>Alison Wheeler wrote:
>>I've often thought that the 'simple English' was the right product aimed
>>at the wrong market.
>>Instead of targetting it at people how have English as a second language
>>(who, quite rightly, want to learn English "properly"; long words and all)
>>why not consider it as targetted at that other group who *need* simple
>>English ...
>>Simple English is, I would have thought, perfect for pre-schoolers and
>>under-12s generally as it sets out to explain concepts in simpler language
>>and as that means a reduced vocabulary then let us target it at those who
>>already daily use that reduced vocabulary.
>Pre-schoolers  are not the right target for this.  They build their 
>essential vocabulary through conversation, and not through staring at a 
>computer screen.  Subject matter also needs to conform to children's 
>views of what is important in their world.
>ESL people or others with reading problems are much better targeted.  
>The subject areas can be more advanced, but they must be put in simpler 
>language.  Before they get into reading the long words, they need to 
>master the short ones.
Eight to twelve year olds are hardly pre-schoolers.  Yes, they are 
beginning readers, and to be honest, when I was learning a second 
language by actually living in the country where it was spoken natively, 
one of the best sources of learning basic grammar and understanding the 
language (once I made the initial breakthrough to decode the vocabulary 
mentally in the first place) was to sit down with a group of elementary 
school students and go through their language primers.  Content that is 
oriented toward an eight year old is also understandable (generally) to 
a foriegner who is just picking up the langauge.  Generally a lot more 
thought goes into those kind of primers as well compared to say a 
Berlitz grammar guide, and they are paced toward an audience with a very 
short attention span (children).  The only problem with trying to learn 
a language this way is 1) obtaining the materials in the first place 
(getting to know a large family with lots of kids does help to do this) 
and 2) some adults are not prepared to try and learn out of the same 
lesson books that children are using because of personal pride or honor 
of some sort.

ESL and Early Childhood Education are usually seperated on most 
university campii by seperate colleges, ESL in a Humanities or Foriegn 
Language college and Early Childhood Education usually in a completely 
seperate college of Education.  My contention here is that they do 
essentially the same thing from two different viewpoints, but because of 
pure political reasons that have nothing to do with the students 
themselves but instead quests for academic power, these discliplines are 
rarely coordinated or merged.  There is no reason to continue such a 
struggle within Wikimedia projects.

Robert Scott Horning

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