Wednesday, 14 May 2014

On this course, ladies and gentlemen, we shall consider information presented visually.

Lying graph is show for trind for UK for buy of ice cream for J F M A M J J A S O N D. At the begin , littel ice cream . Afeter, many ice cream . We can Look the ice cream sweep dramatickelly upstairs with a peak . Neckerst tumble downstirs pipel no buying icecrem for a trough .  Then considerabel figure is rising Before deflate to tumble with at the fenesh of its period .  We can conclude ice cream go up, then falling, then rising, then plommet, go up then down then end with bottom out.   

We've been looking at graphs, par shart and pie shart on the present course. Most of the students are comfortable with numbers and charts, far more so than I am. They can describe trends, percentages and fractions reasonably well. What often confuses them is the interpretation of the figures, and when they are asked to research and find their own information to present, this throws many into their spin cycle. I get students accosting me in the corridors to show me diagrams they have found with their smart phones and ask 'is this OK?' 

'Any diagram is OK. What matters is why you chose it and what you are going to tell us about it.'

I keep forgetting they are doing this for the first time, and many are still in school mode: they see it simply as an exercise in producing mostly the right English words in broadly the right order. I had to explain to Mohammed that he couldn't simply make shit up: he'd need to choose a topic that he found interesting and hoped would interest colleagues, then spend a bit of time on Google scholar gathering information. I asked how it was going.

'I talk about women drivers in Saudi Arabia,' he said.

'How are you going to do that? There aren't any!'

'Yes, yes! Outside the city, some women drive. So I compare the city with the country.'

Think of the bar chart: Jeddah 0, place in the sticks 3, Riyadh 0, another place in the sticks 4. How interesting would that be? What would be worth looking into is the number of people in KSA who support or oppose women's right to drive.

In my point of view, female driving is not a necessity because in the country of the two holy mosques every woman is like a queen.  There is (someone) who cares about her; and a woman needs nothing so long as there is a man who loves her and meets her needs; as for the current campaigns calling for women’s driving, they are not reasonable. Female driving is a matter of fun and amusement, let us be reasonable and thank God so much for the welfare we live in.

This quote, one of several in the same vein, is from a Saudi woman in an article written - who'd a thunk it? - by a Saudi man. The writer informs us that ‘The Saudi economic newspaper El-Iqtisadiah ran a front-page news story suggesting that women’s driving is just a luxury rather than a necessity and that protesters against the ban seek to undermine the kingdoms stability and create sedition.’ Then he adds: ‘This wasn’t just propaganda.’ But of course not! Unpack that lot, and you'd have a good basis for a presentation, but I know Mohammed wouldn't touch it.  

Tomorrow is the last day for preparing presentations with a tutor present. I had a message from a colleague yesterday. Our group was up in arms because they have been told that they must make presentations individually and not in pairs as they had originally been told. A Chinese girl was in tears because she's in a foreign country and up to her eyeballs in boyfriend, money and accommodation problems. Another student, a very smart older woman who will sail through her presentation, was in tears because her husband and daughter in Iraq are living in a dangerous area and she is worried sick about them. So I do hope things will have calmed down a bit by tomorrow. This presentation is just five minutes out of your life, folks, and you still have a whole week before you stand up and deliver it.


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