Category Archives: general English

Information and any materials on general English. Whenever the information provided does not concern military environment and its jargon, it is put here.

Advising on security issues – speaking activities

Fort security issues – advising

Military sentry with a dog. Security issues in the military forts - English speaking activitiesThis time I would like to share my idea for an English lesson on security issues and advising. The whole lesson is based on an article online, additional multiple choice exercise created on kubbu.com and the presentation where I presented necessary grammar and vocabulary. The presentation was used during online teaching session via Skype.

Fort Carson – new security rules

First, as usual, I send the link to the base article. This time I chose the recent article from Military.com. You can find it here. Since the following exercise has imposed time limit for each question, I advised students to read the article at least twice before moving on to the exercise.

Security related exercise

Then I asked students to do one exercise accesible on Kubbu.com prior to our Skype session. If  you want to check on this exercise you can go to a direct link to the exercise and do it as an anonymous user. (link to the exercise here). Kubbu.com helps you monitor each student’s progress and has basic accesibility settings. And my favourite options – deadlines for the students and the time limit setting for each question!

Advising via Skype – English speaking class

Then I conducted 60 minutes session on Skype during which I shared my desktop displaying the following presentation:

If you like my ideas for English lessons, try them yourselves. Do not forget to share your comments to improve my lessons too.

Google Chrome users must use different browsers to see the presentation or go to SlideShare website where it is played properly (link).

Military patrols and radio communication lesson plan

Military patrols

As the base for pre-class students’ preparation I used the article from “The Guardian.” It is about the British troops serving in Afghanistan and their problems there. A big portion of the article online deals with British patrols‘ experiences and the problems they faced in Sangin. In subsequent slides of my presentation below, I dealt with radio communication in English and the basic rules every radio traffic features.

English radio communication

As an illustration for the radio communication exercise I used assorted Internet sourced pictures. Each picture requires from students reporting different events and settings. There is a theory of radio communication provided along with some examples how the communication could possibly look like.

The links to the article and recording were sent before the classes. During the classes I shared on Skype the following presentation:

The students had necessary details already in the pictures provided or in additional notes/graphics included. It’s up to the students to decide what to use and how to compose the radio messages. Skype works perfectly when simulating radio traffic, especially in a conference mode with more than just one attendee.

Speaking exercises – level3 – terrorism topic

Terrorism-related topics

Here are some exercises, designed for level 3 students. The main topic is terrorism. As the base for online discussion I chose the recent article from www.duffelblog.com. This way I combined the source of required vocabulary with a funny approach to a serious subject.

Below you will find my lesson plan, that is how to approach terrorism-related class. Enjoy and share any feedback from your classes.

Terrorism – English vocabulary enhancing class

1) First, I send a link to an article online I chose as the base for further discussion. (see the link above). Along with the link I sent the same article but copied to Word file with some words in bold and underlined. It’s up to you to decide which aspect/element of the article you want to stress.

2) During the meeting I shared my desktop with the students, showing them the presentation you can find below.

3) Then we start discussion from expressing students’ opinion on the article. (slide #2)

4) Then I asked students to group all bold words into two groups of synonyms. (slide #4)

5) Subsequently I encoured students to find out/list any other synonyms to those already listed. (slide #6)

6) Slide #7 shows some possible topics you can offer to discuss further the terrorism and its aspects.

7) Slide #8, a thought provoking drawing is a funny break in the discussion. Another example how you can demand from students expressing their opinions.

8) The next slide just reveals what were the lesson objectives and what they have just practised. To check the students’ performance you can proceed to next slides.

9) On slides #10 and #11 I suggested some useful expressions the students may have already used or would learn as the new ones.

10) To force them to use those expressions on lide #12 are given some controversial statements they may agree or disagree with.

11) The word cloud on slide #13 is just one of the possible representations of the vocabulary needed for any discussions about terrorism.

12) Slide #14 – just a reminder how the proper conditional sentence should be constructed. Tell students to finish the sentences.

13) Another grammar drill is presented on the last slide # 15. When it comes to reporting some events, the students for sure will use one of the presented structures and tenses.

Writing test – answer samples

Writing samples of the military writing according to Stanag6001.Below you will find possible answers to the writing tasks: L3/W/007.

These are real students’ papers, where I corrected some grammar errors and awkward phrasing. I preserved the original layout, work organization and student’s way of reasoning. Despite some flaws you still can find in these works, the given examples are good enough to pass the exam on level 3. Read it, use it and compare with your own papers.

LETTER:

Dear Mr Mayor,

In response to your e-mail with the general requirements regarding the emergency situations, I am pleased to inform you that our local unit will involve its manpower and resources in order to support the local community. Continue reading “Writing test – answer samples” »

Memorandum / memo

Memorandum / Memo

Memorandum/memo - an exampleI have already discussed military reports on many occasions here. Some examples have been shown to you as well. So today, I decided to take into other forms of writing you may be required to write during exams or your everyday work. If you are a staff officer, most probably you deal with memoranda as often as with reports. A Memorandum, also called a memo, is a frequent piece of writing used in business communication too. Memos are used mainly to communicate some important issues to subordinate staff. They can also be used to persuade somebody to take actions, give feedback on something or react to previous concerns, documents or issues discussed.

Memorandum – structure

A memo will be usually addressed to your co-workers or people who you had worked with before. Anyway, do not assume that they have all the contact data and provide it in a clear, visible form. It’s good to follow an effective format of any memo which contains subsequent sections called “to,” “from,” subject,” “date.” Those text markers along with other talking headings will make your memorandum orderly and reader-friendly.

Since memoranda (watch the plural form – it’s from Latin!) may be distributed freely, you can receive a document which is not relevant for you. Likewise, your memos (this time regular plural form!) may reach the addressees who are not interested in it at all. Therefore it is a common practice to make a clear purpose statement at the beginning of our memo. This statement will clearly define the purpose of the paper; it should be concise and direct.

Depending on the staff or organization you work for Continue reading “Memorandum / memo” »

Military abbreviations

Military abbreviations – basic rules

Recently, I have worked at some military exercise prepared mainly by the Polish personnel. Although there were some American native speakers involved in the exercise preparation, some linguistic mistakes and minor errors could be found in the source documents. Even when I ignored some typos, there still were many occurrences of mistakes I could analyse from the point of view of linguist. That is how I collected interesting materials for my thesis on translation mistakes. Here are my observations on the usage of military abbreviations.

Soldiers love acronyms

The most striking feature of the texts I had opportunity to work on, was a poor handling of the abbreviations. It goes without saying that the military community loves abbreviations but few users can really manage to introduce them in a proper way. Here are the main sins of the military users of English.

Plural nouns in the abbreviations

First of all, the ubiquitous apostrophe tends to appear in any plural form of the nouns it abbreviates, e.g. “SOTG’s“. Since the apostrophe here does not indicate genetive relationship, all the author had to do was to omit the apostrophe. “SOTGS” is not the proper form either since it suggests that a letter “S” is a part of the expression being abbreviated, not the plural form indicator. To make the acronym comprehensible and unambiguous it should read “SOTGs.”

The proper article

Any abbreviation not standing for a proper name or the unique phenomenon should be preceded by the article matching the initial sound not the initial character. That is why such abbreviations as EOD, IED, etc. require “an” at the beginning. For the same reason such an abbreviation as UAV requires “a“.

Usage of capital letters

If we use only capital letters to create any abbreviation, at the same time we limit our chances to make the readers guess what expression we are trying to code. If you know two meanings of “POL” (Petrol Oil Lubricants vs. Pattern of Life), the abbreviation written as above, may convey both meanings. The context will decide what meaning should be the right one in a given situation. But if we write it as “PoL” we can eliminate the logistic context immediately, suggesting that “o” stands for a preposition, which makes “Pattern of Life” the only possible option here.

Thousands of acronyms and abbreviations make the soldier’s life hard enough. Do not make it harder by creating or just using existing abbreviations in a careless manner. If you follow these simple rules, any document will be more clear, even to a rookie.

You can find thousands of military abbreviations and acronyms in one file here.