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English Detective #22, Changing Education: Sept. 24,2013
September 24, 2013

English Detective #22, Changing Education: Sept. 24,2013

The current investigation (Introducing this issue): Making Education Better for our Children

This issue starts with a talk by Sir Kenneth Robinson on how to make education ‘come alive’ for our children. There’s a short comprehension worksheet to see how well you understood his main ideas (and give vocabulary and test-taking practice.)

The next is a story about how Inderjit Khurana is bringing classes to poor children who live and work near train stations in India.

Consider writing answers to the four thought-provoking questions at the end of the train station reading. If you would like to share your answers (or if you would like me to proofread and correct them for you, as practice for academic essay writing or tests), use the form on the Contact Me page of EnglishHints-- at the bottom of the navigation bar on the Exercise Your Senses page. (You don’t need to give your email address unless you want an answer.)

There is a crossword to practice this issue’s vocabulary (as well as a discussion of some of the words immediately after they are introduced), and then some practice with words from Latin roots related to seeing, hearing, and the senses.

In newsletter 23 (early October) we will finish introducing the Academic Word List. If you have been reading English Detective from the beginning, you will have read and practiced all 570 words! So future newsletters will offer more practice with roots and prefixes, as well as introducing other important English vocabulary, reviewing AWL words, and investigating other aspects of English (idioms, proverbs, grammar tips, etc.)

Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

adjustment, confirmed, depressed, discretion, format, hence, implies, inclination, inherently, intermediate, justification, mode, modified, prospects, reinforced, relaxed, reluctant, retain, rigid, schedule, so-called, via

In this issue we also are starting to review AWL vocabulary studied earlier: alternative, explicit, instruction, site, and trend. These words are all used several times in the readings, and are in the crossword (where you can check their meanings if you’re not sure of any.)

A few notes about the new vocabulary:

A schedule is a plan for when things will happen. Bus and train schedules are lists of the times buses and trains should arrive at various places. New students check their schedule of classes to know which one is next, and at what time. Schedule can also be a verb: “I need to call the doctor to schedule an appointment.”

To incline is to lean to one side or another. An inclination is a preference, usually not too strong: “I’m inclined to go with you, but if it rains I probably will stay home.”

To adjust and to modify are synonyms that mean to make changes in something. Usually adjustments are minor modifications to improve function, and modifications can be minor, or can be fairly major changes. (We often speak of behavior modification-- rewarding good behavior in people or even animals so they will act that way more often, or punishing bad behavior to reduce it.)

Adaptations are similar adjustments, but normally we adjust things (adjust and modify are often used with direct objects) and adapt ourselves-- or other animals and plants may adapt-- to changing circumstances.

To adjust and to modify mean to make conscious changes; to adapt may be conscious or unconscious, but to evolve is usually to make unconscious adaptations over a long period of time. Revolution, on the other hand, is a complete turn-around, a radical break with the past. It is not a synonym of any of the others.


-- Jeff worked on his old car after school, modifying the muffler and tire rims to impress his friends.

-- Susan looked in the mirror and adjusted her collar and the angle of her hat one more time before the interview.

-- The company made several modifications in their new product after getting negative feedback from purchasers, although they retained its basic shape, which customers liked.

Relaxed and rigid are opposites. Rigid means inflexible and unbending. (Rigidity is important for the strength of certain frameworks like auto bodies or pillars, but negative when it’s used to talk about people. It suggests they are not willing to change their opinions even when given new facts, and that they aren’t willing to adapt their ways of doing things to adjust to changes, even when there is a real need for change.)

To relax is to let go of tension. Muscles relax after they contract. Many people like to sit down and relax a little while after finishing work, before they begin their household chores. People often go on vacations (especially to the beach or to a resort) for relaxation.

So-called is an adjective we use when we feel a name given to someone or something is not appropriate:

-- “That so-called doctor should lose his license! He wouldn’t listen to me-- just gave me some pills to get rid of me!”

-- “Her so-called ‘masterpiece’ could have been created by a seven-year-old!”

Intermediate means in between or in the middle in size or level.

To retain is to keep. Retention is the ability to hold onto something. A test may check your memory retention; swollen ankles are a common result of water retention.

For the other vocabulary (and to review these words), see this issue’s crossword.

Getting the whole story: this issue’s reading/listening practice:

TED talk: “Education’s Death Valley.”

Right-click here (then "Save link as...") to download the related reading comprehension worksheet.

Read about train station schools in India.

Follow the Clues (Vocabulary Practice):

Click here(or right-click to download) for the crossword and here for the answers.

Word Family Investigator:

Exercise your Senses’ Vocabulary.

Coming in the next issue: New Medical Research on healing and cancer

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with over 200 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here. or here for the most recent issues.

P.S. If you’re not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!)

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