Barry Pennock-Speck's Blog

Stuff on linguistics and lots of other things

TeCoLa Meeting in Bordeaux

Posted by pennock on 20 September 2018

Seminar Bordeaux

2nd TeCoLa Seminar “Gamified Intercultural Telecollaboration for Foreign Language Learning” 

19th September 2018
160, avenue de Verdun, 33 700 MERIGNAC
Local contact:

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Kentucky English

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

An interview with an academic from Kentucky. Close your eyes and try to understand her. If you can’t watch the video.

An interview with an academic from Kentucky on the subject of stereotypes. It is originally a sound file recorded but I have made it into a video file with subtitles for our students.

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Karaoke time

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013


Funnily enough, although I don’t particularly care for karaoke, it’s normally me who has to introduce the people taking part. You see, I don’t mind making a fool of myself. I even sing a couple of songs if I’m given the chance. In this particular photograph I am not attacking a member of the public, I am mingling with the audience and trying to get them to sing like a true professional. As you can, the student is completely ignoring me! Karaoke is a great activity to learn a language as when you are singing you forget about the language as you are much more worried about keeping up with the music and doing your thing on stage. This was in the Escola Oficial in Valencia. When? I can’t remember.


Karaoke in the 90s


A folk concert at the Escola Oficial with Roland Pearson in 2005.


An auction in aid of Médecins sans Frontières Christmas 2006


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Smell our smog

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

Here is a joke from Viz Magazine


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Start Listening … so funny!

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

This little gem is from a book and its accompanying cassette Start Listening. The book is designed to teach foreign learners how to understand spoken English, while at the same time building up in them a healthy feeling of disrespect for the Boro. I suppose the whole idea of the exercise is to show the way English place names are pronounced although I am pretty sure that the punch line and the hysterical laughter at the end of the dialogue at the Boro’s expense would baffle most Bulgarians, Greeks, Mongolians or whoever happens to be listening, unless, that is, the Boro’s fame has spread to every corner of the terrestrial globe.

Part 1. Exercise 2. Listen Bournemouth, Peterborough, Oxford, Leicester, Buckingham, Norwich.

Example. First, just listen to Jane. Which are her favourite towns?

  • Jane: Oh, I like Peterborough and Oxford best.

Now do the exercise in your workbook. After each bleep, draw two lines. Draw the lines from the speaker to his favourite towns.

  • Alan: What? Peterborough! I like Norwich and Bournemouth.

  • Mary: Yeah, they’re nice but my favourite towns are Gloucester and Buckingham.

  • Mark: Oh, but they are very quiet. I like big towns. I like Birmingham and Leicester best.

  • Linda: Ugh! Big and dirty. My favourite towns are Portsmouth and Harwich.

  • Peter: Yeah, not bad. But I like Middlesbrough and Bedford.

  • (All together laughing hysterically) Whaaat!!!

Oh yes, so funny!

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Even Orwell slagged us

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

From George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidestra Flying

I like Orwell but I’m especially fond of this novel, which I laughed all the way through. Ravelston, Gordon Comstock’s well meaning but rather pathetic wealthy “socialist” editor is my favourite character. It breaks your heart to read how the plight of the citizens of the Boro spoils his meals and nearly dampens his sex life -if you’ll pardon the rather unfortunate expression!

Chapter 5

Ravelston murmured agreement, with a curious air of guilt. And now they were off upon their favourite subject-Gordon’s favourite subject, anyway; the futility, the bloodiness, the deathliness of modern life. They never met without talking for at least half an hour in this vein. But it always made Ravelston feel rather uncomfortable. In a way, of course, he knew-it was precisely this that Antichrist existed to point out-that life under a decaying capitalism is deathly and meaningless. But this knowledge was only theoretical. You can’t really feel that kind of thing when your income is eight hundred a year. Most of the time, when he wasn’t thinking of coal-miners, Chinese junk-coolies, and the unemployed in Middlesbrough, he felt that life was pretty good fun. Moreover, he had the naive belief that in a little while Socialism is going to put things right.

Ravelston, guilty and miserable, sat staring at his glass and revolving it slowly between his hands. Against his right breast he could feel, a square accusing shape, the pocket-book in which, as he knew, eight pound notes and two ten-bob notes nestled against his fat green cheque-book. How awful these details of poverty are! Not that what Gordon was describing was real poverty. It was at worst the fringe of poverty. But what of the real poor? What of the unemployed in Middlesbrough, seven in a room on twenty-five bob a week? When there are people living like that, how dare one walk the world with pound notes and cheque-books in one’s pocket?

Ravelston was distressed. It must be pretty bloody when you haven’t even the money to take your girl out. He tried to nerve himself to say something, and failed. With guilt, and also with desire, he thought of Hermione’s body, naked like a ripe warm fruit. With any luck she would have dropped in at the flat this evening. Probably she was waiting for him now. He thought of the unemployed in Middlesbrough. Sexual starvation is awful among the unemployed.

In the taxi she lay against him, still half asleep, her head pillowed on his breast. He thought of the unemployed in Middlesbrough, seven in a room on twenty-five bob a week. But the girl’s body was heavy against him, and Middlesbrough was very far away.

They went to their favourite table in the corner. Hermione played with some grapes, but Ravelston was very hungry. He ordered the grilled rumpsteak he had been thinking of, and half a bottle of Beaujolais. The fat, white-haired Italian waiter, an old friend of Ravelston’s, brought the smoking steak. Ravelston cut it open. Lovely, its red-blue heart! In Middlesbrough the unemployed huddle in frowzy beds, bread and marg and milkless tea in their bellies. He settled down to his steak with all the shameful joy of a dog with a stolen leg of mutton.

Chapter 10

It was a curious fact-rather a shameful fact from a Socialist’s point of view-that the thought of Gordon, who had brains and was of gentle birth, lurking in that vile place and that almost menial job, worried him more than the thought of ten thousand unemployed in Middlesbrough.

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Nasty Southerners

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

This one is from the magazine The Face. What, you are probably asking yourself, was I doing reading that! It is much too sophisticated and above all YOUNG for me, you are thinking. Anyway, this passage is rather disgusting, so if you are shocked by bad language and racist comment, don’t read on.

The choice views of a Chelsea supporter on folks from the Boro and others from up north. This comes just after he’s had a go at every other minority in the country.

Let’s just hear Eddie on the English: “Well, scousers aren’t fucking English are they? Do you remember the Everton vs Liverpool Cup Final? They booed the national anthem, for fuck’s sake! If we were fucking civilised we’d shoot them as fucking traitors!”

Perhaps this is the real reason why, despite bold attempts to bolster their racist/bigoted credibility, Everton’s scummier elements have never been fully included in the True Blue alliance. Geordies or anyone from the North-east also should not apply.

Middlesbrough, Geordies -all that fucking lot. Fucking savages. Take more welfare than the fucking blacks. They’re not even part of fucking England. They should be shoved back with all the nasty sweaties.” (Sweaties as in sweaty socks ie jocks, the Scottish.)

What did I tell you? It makes you proud to be from the Boro when someone like that hates you, doesn’t it?

The Face, April 1995, Nº 79, page 109.

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Nasty ancestors

Posted by pennock on 28 November 2013

Nasty Ancestors

It seems that, unlike me, some of my ancestors weren’t very nice people. One of them, old Pennock, would go around chasing the poor rebs with his hounds. His exploits were immortalized in:

The Call of Quantrill

Up! comrades, up! The moon’s in the west,
and the hounds of old Pennock will find out our nest.
We must be gone ere the dawning of day;
the Quantrill they seek shall be far, far away.
Their toils after us shall ever be vain.
Let them scout through the brush and scour the plain
We’ll pass through their midst in the dead of the night.
We are lions in combat and eagles in flight.

Rouse, my brave boys, up, up and away; press hard on the foe ere the dawning of day;

Look well to your steeds so gallant in chase.
May they never give o’er till they win in the race.
When old Pennock is weary and the chase given o’er,
we’ll pass through their midst and bathe in their gore.
We’ll come as a thunderbolt comes from the cloud;
we’ll smite the oppressor and humble the proud.
Few shall escape us and few shall be spared,
for keen is our saber, in vengeance ’tis bared;
For none are so strong, so mighty in fight,
as the the warrior who battles for our Southern right.


Though the bush is our home, the green sod our bed,
our drink from the river, and roots for our bread,
We pine not for more; we bow not the head,
for freedom is ever within the green wood.
Tyrants shan’t conquer and fetters shan’t bind,
for true are our rifles; our steeds like the wind.
We’ll sheathe not the sword; we’ll draw not the rein,
till Pennock is banished from valley and plain.

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My dad

Posted by pennock on 3 April 2013

My name is Barry Pennock-Speck. I use the hyphen because in some conferences I have been listed as Speck, Barry Pennock. In the photo below you can see where I got my good looks!

Guess which of them is my dad!

Guess which of them is my dad!

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Subtitles -you mean you can’t understand me?

Posted by pennock on 18 September 2009

 A short film on whether subtitles are really necessary or not.




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