Thursday, July 27, 2006

The daily news is meaningless without history:
Rich contexts for vocabulary learning

There is an interesting thread on the role of journalism over at Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal. Here's the quote that attracted my attention:

"...instead of hoping that clever/informed readers will see through the kabuki to the facts, and leaving the less sophisticated readers to flounder about in disinformation, journalists should in fact make those value judgements plain and call a spade a spade...leaving utter nonsense unchallenged except by a partisan source, and failing to provide the necessary context."

I find this interesting because you can't really learn vocabulary without a rich context. So I succumbed to tempatation and made the following comment:

HISTORY has to be written in parallel with the news, also known as background info or rich context. Wikipedia's pretty good for this.

Working in the education department of a newspaper I have to repurpose articles for educational purposes.The lack of context and background information makes this very difficult for many articles. For example, today there is an article on the auctioning off of assets seized by banks after the 1997 economic crisis in Thailand, but the list of facts is really meaningless without background information.

Sometimes it is opaque rent-seeking relations with powerful people that makes the context unwritable. Informed sources have told me that this is the case
in the sugar industry.

Empowering knowledge-seeking readers, not the ones who just want to look in the the mirror, should be the goal, but the newsreaders have to become **good critical readers of history** to do this.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Good English listening practice for economics majors

For students in Thai, Korean, or Japanese universities studying economics, UC Berkeley professor of economics Brad de Long does a series of videocasts called the Morning Coffee Videocast.

Today's videocast, A Primer on the Federal Reserve, is particularly helpful for learning how to listen to people speaking about economics and also how speak about economics yourself.