National News – Oxford University
Twenty teachers, life-long learners, and ESU members have returned from an immersion into the story and future of English -- the ESU's new one-week TLab-UK course at historic Worcester College of the University of Oxford.
The course represents an expansion of the ESU's partnership with the University of Oxford. Traditionally, this partnership has provided opportunities of longer summer study terms to secondary school teachers. With this shorter, one-week format, "The Story and Future of English" provided opportunities for current and retired classroom teachers, ESU members, and English in Action volunteers to come together in a scholarly setting. They lived as Oxford students, housed in dorm rooms, dining in hall and enjoying warm summer evenings in the garden of the college pub. One TLab scholar remarked, "You can't have a more inspiring setting than Oxford, and staying at Worcester was like staying in a botanical garden."
Participants attended classes taught by acclaimed Oxford instructors in the same buildings where England's legendary scholars and poets have received their education. Each day began with breakfast in Worcester College's main hall, followed by a lecture. After a mid-morning coffee break, participants returned for another interesting and inspiring lecture. Each afternoon, they were treated to private tours of beautiful and historic Oxford sites and institutions, often being provided intimate access to historic documents and artifacts underscoring and illustrating the lessons learned. Each evening, the happy "class" gathered in Hall for dinner and more discussion of what they'd learned about the ancient invasions and conquests that influenced the language, the skill and expert use of English by milestone writers including Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Austen, and the enormous effort to codifying English by the creators of the Oxford English Dictionary. Closing the course were wonderful – and often amusing -- analyses and predictions of the effect global technology may have on English.
The course schedule:
Monday, July 17
Old English and Old Norse: A Linguistic Conquest
by Brian McMahon
"Divided by a common language?" British and American English, by David Grylls
Oxford Walking Tour
Tuesday, July 18
What is Old English? by Francis Leneghan
Wrought in the Middle: English Writing in the Later Medieval Period, by Helen Appleton
Guided visit to Keble College
Wednesday, July 19
"Fire-new words:" Shakespeare's Dramatic Language by Lynn Robson
The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Peter Gilliver
Guided visit to the Ashmolean Museum
Thursday, July 20
Jane Austen's Language by Sandie Byrne
The Future of English by Simon Horobin
Guided visit to the Weston and Bodleian Libraries with access to the Special Collections
Friday, July 21
Writing and Reading Words in War-time
by Lynda Mugglestone
Don't @ me, but: what's new about new words?
by Jonathan Dent
Formal Farewell Dinner