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Re: (teach) "How often do you usually play sports?"

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  • Frank Doonan
    Is using sport instead of sports British English? In American English a countable noun in this case would us an s . As in, How often do you eat apples? as
    Message 1 of 23 , Apr 30, 2004
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      Is using sport instead of sports British English?

      In American English a countable noun in this case would us an 's'.

      As in, 'How often do you eat apples?' as opposed to 'How often do you eat pie?'


      Stephanie Noke <araxy@...> wrote:

      I have no problem with it other than that I would probably say sport in the singular.
    • Bonowogrodzka@aol.com
      Shouldn t it be do sport (singular) not play sports? Bo (frustrated teacher in France at the mo) [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Message 2 of 23 , May 1, 2004
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        Shouldn't it be do sport (singular) not play sports?

        Bo (frustrated teacher in France at the mo)


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • colin gulam
        I like this structure (below) and I very like NIC !!! BUT then I am 50th generation Brit (a lie,I am actually Pict/Celt mix) On another theme - I use 40% of
        Message 3 of 23 , May 1, 2004
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          I like this structure (below)
          and I very like NIC !!!

          BUT then I am 50th generation Brit (a lie,I am
          actually Pict/Celt mix)

          On another theme - I use 40% of most of my classes
          teaching question making - English SHOULD BE useful.

          Now I wonder who will take offense - and I will get
          this mail back!!!!!!!!

          > "How often do you usually play sports?"
          >
          >
          > Dave Kees
          >
          >
        • dk
          I think this is a great idea. It is from the TESL-L list. Of course, many of you are taking your May holiday inside China. But if you are going outside, even
          Message 4 of 23 , May 1, 2004
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            I think this is a great idea. It is from the TESL-L list. Of course, many of
            you are taking your May holiday inside China. But if you are going outside,
            even to a non-English speaking country, something like this could generate a
            lot of classroom speaking.

            Reposted here with permission of the original contributor.

            -D

            HOLIDAY DETECTIVE

            Just a quick idea you may like to try out with your students.
            I recently spent two weeks cycling 1200km. When I returned to my home in
            France, I had a big pile of maps, receipts, timetables, little notes,
            postcards, brochures etc. I took them all to class and rather than tell my
            students about 'what I did on my holiday', I got my students to tell me what
            they think I did. It was wonderful to watch them with a large map, plotting
            my journey, using all sorts of language to discuss the possibilities. I kept
            a low profile, writing things on the whiteboard or slipping notes to
            students rather than stopping the flow.
            So next time you come back from holiday, don't throw away all those
            ticket stubs and timetables, take them to class!

            Jeremy Taylor, Freelance Writer, Teacher, Juggler.
            Pau, France
            http://perso.wanadoo.fr/jeremytaylor/


            Dave Kees
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
          • Linell Davis
            Pete and Dick Thanks for your posts on metaphors for teachers. I can clear up the mystery about floating s identity and research project. The original post was
            Message 5 of 23 , May 2, 2004
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              Pete and Dick

              Thanks for your posts on metaphors for teachers. I can clear up the mystery
              about floating's identity and research project. The original post was by Pan
              Haiyan, a first year MA student who is taking a research writing course from
              me. She has read Lakoff and Johnson for her course in cognitive semantics
              and when I told the students that they had to plan and carry out their own
              research projects, she wanted to learn more about metaphors. I encouraged
              her but told her to narrow the topic. It was her idea to investigate
              metaphors for teachers. I tell the students that they have to use original
              sources for their research, so she had to figure out how to find metaphors
              for teachers. She used the Internet to do that, but also wanted to find out
              what teachers consider to be the most usual (conventional) metaphors for
              teachers, which is why she posted her inquiry.

              When I last saw her in class she told me that her message was not posted. I
              never saw it myself, so I was surprised to read Pete's reply and then
              Dick's. I have copied your replies which I will give to her. I have been
              shuffling through my papers but cannot find her email address. Do either of
              you have it? I won't see her again until after the holiday.

              Most of the students in this course are preparing to be university English
              teachers. They are interested in new methodologies and new theories. It is a
              lively intellectual atmosphere, which pleases me. I think this project is
              meaningful, a way to get at things like teachers' implicit theories of
              teaching and learning.

              Thanks for your replies. Any more to say?

              Linell Davis
              Nanjing Normal University
            • dk
              From time to time new list members ask about how to get certificates. This article from the Telegraph helps to address that subject. Keep in mind the author
              Message 6 of 23 , May 3, 2004
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                From time to time new list members ask about how to get certificates. This
                article from the Telegraph helps to address that subject. Keep in mind the
                author works for an organization (Cactus) he also promotes in the
                article. -D

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Can teach, will travel

                Having a TEFL qualification offers a great chance to work abroad and earn
                some money. By Richard Bradford

                Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a first-rate postgraduate
                gap-year option. Many use it as a career break, a lifestyle change or a
                retirement plan. It means going abroad to teach English to non-native
                speakers and provides an invaluable opportunity to discover new languages
                and cultures.


                'Seeing your students progress is in itself a rewarding experience'

                It began in the 1950s as a rather colonial approach to those for whom
                English was not their first language. Today, TEFL, also know as TESOL -
                Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages - is a multi-million-pound
                international industry catering for those who want to speak the world's
                premier international language.

                Technically, anyone with a native level of English can become a TEFL
                teacher. Having an empathy with your students and a real understanding of
                English are important. When you apply to take a course, you might be asked
                to explain the difference between the words "meaning" and "significance" or
                between the phrases "She reads The Telegraph" and "She is reading The
                Telegraph". The job also requires a fair amount of dynamism, although seeing
                your students progress is in itself a rewarding experience.

                Teaching English abroad is usually based in private language schools. You
                might teach younger learners, university students or company employees.
                Depending on your background, you could become a teacher of English for
                Specific Purposes (ESP) - for example, business or legal English. With about
                25 lessons of 45 to 60 minutes a week, the teaching is pretty much
                full-time. So it is important to be properly qualified.

                There are myriad TEFL courses offered on the internet, varying widely in
                price, content and recognition. Although most claim to be internationally
                recognised, only two really are: the Cambridge Certificate in English
                Language Teaching to Adults (Cambridge CELTA) and the Trinity Certificate in
                Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Trinity Cert TESOL).

                They are externally assessed and recognised by the British Council as the
                minimum qualification required to teach in a British private language
                school. Both can be taken either part-time or intensively over four to five
                weeks.

                The main objective of the courses is to improve your practical teaching
                ability. Weekly teaching practice is underpinned with lively lectures,
                discussions, observation and activities, and cover skills areas such as
                language awareness (grammar), linguistics, phonetics, foreign language
                acquisition, teaching materials, classroom management and lesson planning.

                Prices of the Cambridge and Trinity Cert courses vary from ?650 to ?1,000.
                Cactus Teachers offers a selection of both courses and a centralised
                application procedure for more than 60 providers in Britain. The courses are
                based in popular international locations such as Spain, the Czech Republic,
                Hungary, Poland and Australia.

                Online and weekend courses can also be useful as a taster and for those
                considering using TEFL as a means of earning money while travelling. Shorter
                TEFL courses cost from about ?200. While financially advantageous, these
                omit the important teaching practice element and may not be fully recognised
                abroad. A useful site to explore the different course types is
                www.tefladmissions.com.

                You can find teaching work by simply going to the country and looking for
                it, by volunteering for a TEFL adventure with a gap-year organisation or by
                securing paid work before you leave. Most courses will offer help and advice
                on this.

                Many newly qualified teachers head to eastern Europe and South-East Asia,
                where the demand for teachers is higher. Last year, 600 British graduates
                worked in Japan as assistant language teachers with Japan Exchange and
                Teaching (JET) - www.jet-uk.org - which pays for return flights and
                organises accommodation.

                Spain is the most popular country for British-based English language
                teachers, who can stay with a local host family. This means they can
                integrate with the local culture and secure low-cost accommodation while
                searching for that important first job. The single biggest source of TEFL
                jobs is www.tefl.com.

                Most positions around the world will provide enough income to cover local
                accommodation and subsistence, as well as some spare cash. Back in Britain,
                experienced teachers can earn ?15 to ?30 an hour working in private language
                schools and further education colleges.

                Top employers in Britain generally regard TEFL as a positive way of spending
                a gap year. Transferable skills such as time management and the ability to
                train and give presentations are welcome additions to formal qualifications,
                not to mention inter-cultural sensitivity and language skills.

                For those captivated by the nature of the work and the sense of freedom it
                gives, career paths and further qualifications are available. Teachers go on
                to become directors of studies, educational managers, school managers and
                authors of course materials.

                The author is the head of teacher training at Cactus Teachers, an online
                TEFL course admissions service offering advice and support to those
                considering a career in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 'The Little
                Book of TEFL', is available free from www.cactusteachers.com or call 0845
                130 4775.

                http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/main.jhtml?xml=/education/2004/05/01/te
                fl01.xml&sSheet=/education/2004/05/01/ixtetop.html


                Dave Kees
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
              • Martin Greeman
                John Ball wrote: Yes I do as well. Obviously the use of the word sports rather than sport is a well documented difference between
                Message 7 of 23 , May 4, 2004
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                  John Ball <ndboletters@...> wrote:
                  Yes I do as well. Obviously the use of the word
                  "sports" rather than sport is a well documented
                  difference between British and American English but
                  there is no way the sentence would stand up in a court
                  of law or anything similar where precision is
                  required.

                  The problem is the word �usually� is redundant and
                  serves to add confusion and ambiguity.

                  Do you answer the question

                  How often do you play sports ? or

                  How many times a week do you play sports ?

                  In reality this is an open ended conversational
                  question where the other party is expected to respond
                  with a string of sentences such as

                  "Let me see, I play table tennis on Tuesday,
                  volleyball on Friday the every now and then I get
                  together with my old friends for a game of basketball
                  ..."

                  If the question appeared in a survey it should be as
                  unambiguous as possible.

                  such as

                  On average how many times a week do you play sports.

                  a bit suspect as the word average is the sum of the
                  number of times you play sports divided by the number
                  of weeks so if you were building up to a big
                  tournament the average would be distorted.

                  perhaps

                  In a typical week how many times do you play sports.

                  a) Do Not Play sports
                  b) 1 or 2
                  c) 3-4
                  d) Every Day
                  e)More than once a day

                  would be about as unambiguous as you could get without
                  calling a lawyer.

                  I am sure there are technical grammatical reasons why
                  the sentence is wrong but English unlike French German
                  and other European languages does not lend itself so
                  well to technical analysis because there are too many
                  inconsistencies.

                  John Ball
                  ---------------------------------
                  Does anyone else have a problem with this sentence,
                  taken from New Interchange level 1 (pg.35)?
                  "How often do you usually play sports?"
                  Dave Kees
                • Ellen Paz
                  Dave, Often and usually used together seems OK to me. I understand it as a question being asked about the frequency of physical activity done as part of
                  Message 8 of 23 , May 4, 2004
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                    Dave,
                    "Often" and "usually" used together seems OK to me. I understand it as a question being asked about the frequency of physical activity done as part of one's usual routine. This would exclude periods such as during exams, vacations, business trips, illness, etc. that break the routine. The part that actually bothers me is the "play sports". Maybe it's British because I don't recall hearing it in the US. There we "play" baseball, football, tennis, etc.,"go" swimming, jogging, "work" out, or "do" aerobics. I assume that the meaning of the question includes all of these activities.
                    Ellen
                  • fshdt
                    Play + sport(s) is unusual in British English. The BNC only gives 7 and 4 entries. Try the combination of often and usually out for other activities. How
                    Message 9 of 23 , May 4, 2004
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                      Play + sport(s) is unusual in British English. The BNC only gives 7
                      and 4 entries.

                      Try the combination of 'often' and 'usually' out for other activities.

                      How often do you usually have bacon for breakfast?

                      How often do you usually play tennis?

                      How often do you usually kiss your wife?

                      How often do you usually philander?

                      How often do you usually go jogging?

                      It doesn't sound very natural. There's a redundancy to it.
                      Again, the BNC gives very few occurrences of 'often' near 'usually'.
                      The number of occasions when you need to 'find out the frequency of a
                      habit' are pretty few.

                      Dick
                    • dk
                      This was an interesting article on the subject: http://www.learningpaths.org/papers/paperbeliefs.htm This will sound rather oddball but that s the way I am. I
                      Message 10 of 23 , May 4, 2004
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                        This was an interesting article on the subject:
                        http://www.learningpaths.org/papers/paperbeliefs.htm


                        This will sound rather oddball but that's the way I am. I have found that
                        one of the most powerful metaphors I am using is that of the late night talk
                        shows like the David Letterman show.

                        Let's look at the elements of the talk show:

                        One of the biggest ones is that, unlike school, no one has to watch it. It
                        is all purely voluntary. In fact, with remote control in hand, even a
                        momentary lapse into boring material and the viewer will zap it in favor of
                        another channel. Can you image the impact it would have on teaching if
                        viewers could zap the teacher if he got too boring.

                        How do these shows keep viewer interest? They have to find material that is
                        of interest to the viewers and they always have plenty of variety. Letterman
                        follows a pattern that insures variety:

                        The monologue, a series of jokes he tells at the beginning of the show while
                        standing in the middle of the stage.

                        Then he sits down and tells a funny story of something that happened to him
                        or someone else.

                        Following this is one of a few things, a "game" played with the audience or
                        more goofy stories or reading Oprah transcripts involving members of his
                        cast. Then,

                        The "Top 10!"

                        Guest #1, a movie star, politician or other famous character

                        Guest #2, same as above

                        The band or music group at the end.

                        With this little routine Dave is able to have a successful show and make
                        nearly $1 million a week.

                        But we are teachers who want to teach, not entertain!

                        People learn a lot of things from the Letterman show. They see and hear
                        things and remember them. Later they sometimes refer to this information
                        when making decisions.


                        So how do I do my classes? I usually try to start with a short monologue, a
                        story about something that happened with me and my family. This only takes a
                        couple minutes and gives me a chance to 'read' the class, how they are
                        feeling today, are they sleepy or bored, etc. and how do I need to conduct
                        the class to engage them?

                        Then I will do a game. I seldom start a class without a game or some sort of
                        fun activity. I believe it is the teacher's duty to warm up the class and
                        teachers should not expect much participation if they don't get them warmed
                        up.

                        At this point we dive into our lesson, our course book, and study from that.
                        Unlike many teachers, I like a good course book. But no matter how good the
                        course book is I haven't found one that can not only instruct the students
                        but not let them get bored.

                        I always try to save the best for last. It used to be the game but now it is
                        the movie clip. I do a lesson based around a couple minutes of a movie clip.

                        End with a wrap up. What did they learn? Review with them all the new
                        vocabulary, the grammar they practiced, and then send them home with a
                        rousing "goodbye, thanks for being good students!"



                        Dave Kees
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
                      • camilla krueger
                        Linell — many years ago I participated in a lesson for middle school Chinese English teachers given by Dr. Rodney Clarken who is a professor of education
                        Message 11 of 23 , May 6, 2004
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                          Linell � many years ago I participated in a "lesson" for middle school Chinese
                          English teachers given by Dr. Rodney Clarken who is a professor of education
                          at Northern Michigan University. Most of the lesson consisted of thinking up
                          metaphors for teachers, which produced some pretty interesting results (one
                          of the most memorable being "sausage stuffers").

                          Anyway, your student might find the following academic paper by Dr. Rodney
                          Clarken useful: "Metaphors for Educators." Describes the value of metaphors
                          and presents five metaphors for educators. Paper presented at the 1997
                          annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

                          Here's the web address:
                          http://www-instruct.nmu.edu/education/rclarken/education/aera-metaphors.htm.

                          Camilla Krueger
                        • Martin Greeman
                          Martin Greeman wrote: John Ball wrote: Yes I do as well. Obviously the use of the word sports rather than sport is a well documented
                          Message 12 of 23 , May 7, 2004
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                            Martin Greeman <sunwukongus@...> wrote: John Ball wrote:
                            Yes I do as well. Obviously the use of the word
                            "sports" rather than sport is a well documented
                            difference between British and American English but
                            there is no way the sentence would stand up in a court
                            of law or anything similar where precision is
                            required.

                            The problem is the word �usually� is redundant and
                            serves to add confusion and ambiguity.

                            Do you answer the question

                            How often do you play sports ? or

                            How many times a week do you play sports ?

                            In reality this is an open ended conversational
                            question where the other party is expected to respond
                            with a string of sentences such as

                            "Let me see, I play table tennis on Tuesday,
                            volleyball on Friday the every now and then I get
                            together with my old friends for a game of basketball
                            ..."

                            If the question appeared in a survey it should be as
                            unambiguous as possible.

                            such as

                            On average how many times a week do you play sports.

                            a bit suspect as the word average is the sum of the
                            number of times you play sports divided by the number
                            of weeks so if you were building up to a big
                            tournament the average would be distorted.

                            perhaps

                            In a typical week how many times do you play sports.

                            a) Do Not Play sports
                            b) 1 or 2
                            c) 3-4
                            d) Every Day
                            e)More than once a day

                            would be about as unambiguous as you could get without
                            calling a lawyer.

                            I am sure there are technical grammatical reasons why
                            the sentence is wrong but English unlike French German
                            and other European languages does not lend itself so
                            well to technical analysis because there are too many
                            inconsistencies.

                            John Ball
                            ---------------------------------
                            Does anyone else have a problem with this sentence,
                            taken from New Interchange level 1 (pg.35)?
                            "How often do you usually play sports?"
                            Dave Kees






                            http://TEFLChina.org/welcome <=== List HowTo
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                          • Tony Lee
                            The eight replies to DK s original question have served to illustrate that while it may be ok to ask it of all-USA or all- British English speakers, to ask it
                            Message 13 of 23 , May 7, 2004
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                              The eight replies to DK's original question have served to
                              illustrate that while it may be ok to ask it of all-USA or all-
                              British English speakers, to ask it of an international group just
                              ends up with no consensus at all.
                              Yes it does sound a little strange and it is a bit redundant --
                              although there are clearly circumstances where it would be perfectly
                              appropriate to add "usually" -- but I doubt whether anyone hearing
                              that question in normal casual conversation would think it at all
                              unusual. In some of the replies I imagined you could almost see the
                              effort involved in coming up with faults just because Dave seemed to
                              have suggested there were some.

                              TonyL
                            • dearmsbond
                              I agree, Tony. It s not a great model question for a textbook but it s a quite possible and understandable sample of spoken English (though that s almost
                              Message 14 of 23 , May 7, 2004
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                                I agree, Tony.

                                It's not a great model question for a textbook but it's a quite
                                possible and understandable sample of spoken English (though
                                that's almost certainly not what the authors intended.)

                                Reading the responses made me picture the following :

                                A : How often do you play sport/s ?

                                B : Me ? Well, I've been a bit busy lately, so it's hard to say ...

                                A : (Look, I know this is a rather unnatural question, but my
                                teacher gave me this assignment for HW, so let's just get it over
                                with ...)
                                Well, how often do you USUALLY play sport/s ?

                                or

                                How often do you play sports USUALLY ?

                                The question in the text provides a good opportunity for exploring
                                the differences between spoken & written language and ways of
                                playing around with stress and context.

                                Jan

                                .....................................................................
                                Tony Lee wrote:
                                The eight replies to DK's original question have served to
                                illustrate that while it may be ok to ask it of all-USA or all-
                                British English speakers, to ask it of an international group just
                                ends up with no consensus at all.
                                Yes it does sound a little strange and it is a bit redundant --
                                although there are clearly circumstances where it would be perfectly
                                appropriate to add "usually" -- but I doubt whether anyone hearing
                                that question in normal casual conversation would think it at all
                                unusual. In some of the replies I imagined you could almost see the
                                effort involved in coming up with faults just because Dave seemed to
                                have suggested there were some.
                              • dk
                                Well, of course the question can be understood clearly. But for me it was a bit like having a pebble in your shoe. You can walk on it, no problem, but it feels
                                Message 15 of 23 , May 8, 2004
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                                  Well, of course the question can be understood clearly. But for me it was a
                                  bit like having a pebble in your shoe. You can walk on it, no problem, but
                                  it feels odd. That is still not a problem but when you are a teacher you
                                  have to tell your student "walk the way I walk" and you want to make sure
                                  it's OK for that pebble to be there. For the same reason I teach my students
                                  that they can "sleep well" but they can never "sleep good". Although "sleep
                                  good" is highly accepted and many native English speakers don't know the
                                  difference I'd rather help my students start on the right track.

                                  If it were something in a locally produced English textbook it would be
                                  easier to come to terms with it but this came from New Interchange so it
                                  forces me to question my own understanding of English usage (is it American
                                  or British) and even teaching and grammar mastery (I'm not a grammar
                                  master). It's not just a of whether or not it is usable or understood but
                                  the question is the value of teaching it. In such situations, I turn to my
                                  colleagues on this list to help me out.


                                  "How often do you usually play sports?"


                                  My problem with it is the redundancy and ambiguity of it. It is with
                                  "usually play sports" implying that there are occasions when one *usually*
                                  plays sports and when one *seldom* plays sports. This implication is quite
                                  strange to me. Could we be allowed: "How often do you seldom play sports?"


                                  I googled "often do you usually" and came up with 1600 hits. Although that
                                  clearly shows accepted usage it doesn't make it sound like it's an important
                                  English language structure to teach.

                                  * In a typical week, how often do you usually listen to Red River Radio?
                                  * How often do you usually eat regular bologna, hot dogs, corned beef,
                                  spareribs, sausage, bacon, deli tuna or chicken salad?
                                  * For insulin pump users, how often do you usually change your infusion set?
                                  * How often do you usually drink fruit juices such as orange, grapefruit or
                                  tomato?
                                  * How often do you usually read the TES newspaper?
                                  * How often do you usually play sport? <-- our original question
                                  * How often do you usually mix with truly evil people?
                                  * How often do you usually have a drink of liquor?
                                  * How often do you usually add butter or margarine to bread?


                                  Look at this question:

                                  How often do you usually eat seafood and how often do you eat western food?

                                  "I eat seafood all the time because I live in Guangzhou all the time. I
                                  seldom eat western food because I seldom go to Macau. I usually eat seafood
                                  when I'm in Guangzhou and western food when I'm in Macau."

                                  Here the speaker may be also eating western food in Guangzhou and seafood in
                                  Macau but it is not the usual meal that he eats in those places. We are
                                  treating "usually eat" as a highly frequent occurrence over a period of
                                  time.


                                  I did find one mention of the question by a teacher of psychology who
                                  objected to it for reasons of ambiguity when he was explaining how to make
                                  questionnaires:

                                  “How often do you usually?” questions is asking the respondents to do the
                                  time sampling for us. We shall never know how far back in time they have
                                  gone in order to do their calculation, how many exceptions they have allowed
                                  themselves before they recognized that a change in a habitual pattern had
                                  taken place, and what the word “usually” means to them.


                                  He is actually objecting to it on different grounds of ambiguity. Because he
                                  doesn't raise my questions about the question it lends credence to its
                                  usage.

                                  I brought up the matter to the list because, linguistically, it didn't feel
                                  right but I couldn't put my finger on it. Now I can sleep good.


                                  Dave Kees
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                  Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
                                • Tony Lee
                                  ... with usually play sports implying that there are occasions when one *usually* plays sports and when one *seldom* plays sports. This implication is quite
                                  Message 16 of 23 , May 9, 2004
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                                    --- In TEFLChina@yahoogroups.com, "dk" <davkees@p...> wrote:

                                    > "How often do you usually play sports?"

                                    > My problem with it is the redundancy and ambiguity of it. It is
                                    with "usually play sports" implying that there are occasions when
                                    one *usually* plays sports and when one *seldom* plays sports. This
                                    implication is quite strange to me. Could we be allowed: "How often
                                    do you seldom play sports?"

                                    "usually" is not the opposite of "seldom" so I don't understand your
                                    comparison.
                                    "How seldom do you usually play sports" might make more sense --
                                    although obviously it still feels clumsy

                                    In this example, if you were in an unusual situation -- perhaps just
                                    emerged from a 12 month coma, or being in head to toe plaster, or
                                    meeting on a cruise ship or climbing a mountain then surely to just
                                    ask how often one plays sports could well get a wisecrack answer.




                                    > * In a typical week, how often do you usually listen to Red River
                                    Radio?

                                    This is certainly redundant because typical is equivalent to usual


                                    > * How often do you usually read the TES newspaper?
                                    > * How often do you usually play sport? <-- our original question
                                    > * How often do you usually mix with truly evil people?
                                    > * How often do you usually have a drink of liquor?
                                    > * How often do you usually add butter or margarine to bread?

                                    but these merely ask the respondant to consider what happens under
                                    normal conditions - in a typical time period.

                                    As Dave said, "normal" is too subjective a concept to allow in
                                    surveys, but unless you do a snapshot at a specific time and allow
                                    statistics to determine what is normal (as they do in a national
                                    census) it is hard to express what sort of behaviour you are wanting
                                    the answer to include.

                                    China is certainly a good place for discovering the little
                                    differences such as "I couldn't care less" which makes perfect sense
                                    to me, vs. "I could care less", which is complete nonsense to me, as
                                    it is a sort of double negative in the normal context used.

                                    TonyL
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