Monthly Archives: June 2011

Jun 22nd 2011

Are you part of the English Mania?

If you are reading these lines then your English language skills are most likely quite good. You might be a native English speaker or someone who speaks English as a second language or as a foreign language. You might be surprised to know how many people speak English. There are about 350 million native English speakers in the world, and about as many who speak it as a second language. 750 million speak English as a foreign language. Moreover, English is being learned by about a billion people. Billion! That’s a huge number. Have you ever stopped to think why English is so popular and why it is important to speak English?

And why is it? Try to ask this question on Yahoo! Answers. The most popular answer is “Because English people are too lazy to learn yours!” Hmm, amusing as it might be, it’s not really the reason. In reality, English is the lingua franca of the world, but not because it’s spoken by the largest number of people. It’s mainly because English is spoken as a native language or is a very dominant language in more continents than any other language. Think of the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, India, South Africa and also the Caribbean. No other language has the same impact on so many parts of the world.

Still not convinced? You must have missed the fact that English is everywhere. It is used by non-English-speaking tourist destinations to communicate with visitors, it dominates most of the World Wide Web’s stored data and pages, it is critical for international business and even for landing a good job. That’s why a billion people are learning English.

And indeed the world has a new mania: the English Mania – a relatively new obsession with learning English. Watch Jay Walker talk about this new mania. He shares photos and spine-tingling audio of Chinese students rehearsing English — “the world’s second language” — by the thousands. Check it out:

To summarise, there’s no doubt. It’s important to speak English and it can certainly make life easier and more enjoyable. The more you master it, the better. It only makes sense to hop on the English Mania train and not wait for the lazy native English speakers of the world to start learning other languages.

And what do you think? Are you an enthusiastic English learner? Are you a native English speaker who feels that English is more than enough? Or do you believe that this is just a temporary trend and that a different language is going to take over the world? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts with us!

Adios for now -

Sharon and the Ginger team

13 Comments

Jun 15th 2011

School children produce better texts with Ginger

Great feedback all around at our visit to The Norman Howard School in Rochester, NY

A couple of weeks ago, Miki, our VP of US operations, visited one of the schools that use Ginger and saw the students and Ginger in action.

Students at The Norman Howard School have been using Ginger for a while now since the software’s early days when it was in beta and text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities were not available. Miki had a chance to observe classes where the children were working on writing assignments. She watched some of the students as they were using Ginger to edit their work:

“It was interesting to watch the different strategies the students used”, says Miki, “Some constantly used the TTS feature. They kept on listening to the complete texts and used it as a cue to review their work while other students listened to the individual sentences within the toolbar. Some students briefly looked at the corrected sentence and clicked ‘Accept’ while others checked every corrected word, clicked on it, reviewed the suggestions etc.”

Miki had some time to sit with students and teachers and demonstrate more techniques for using Ginger efficiently. For example, if the sentence contains many severe mistakes, it helps to re-Ginger it once some corrections are applied. For example, in the picture below, a student is using Ginger to correct the word ‘sekrits’ (an unusual misspelling of ‘secrets’):

'sekrits' corrected to 'secrets'

After applying the correction, when re-Gingering the sentence, a new error is found – ‘people’ (instead of ‘person’), a grammar error in this case. The final sentence contains no more mistakes:

'people' replaced with the correct singular form - 'person'

“It was very visible how Ginger can help these students” concludes Miki. The teachers at the school were extremely excited to meet with us and there were positive comments all around! They mentioned how Ginger enables the students to work independently and significantly helps them produce more texts of better quality. In particular, the teachers told Miki that they were very pleased about adding TTS capabilities to Ginger as it helps with both the writing as well as the proofreading processes.

“Ginger is a great tool to have in your pocket for any writing assignment”, summarized Edina Fitzpatrick, the Coordinator of the Instructional Technology at The Norman Howard School, “Ginger falls in the realm of tools the students can take with them at any age, to communicate on social networks, at collage, at work, and they will benefit from it in the long run”.

Ginger is used in many schools across the US, UK, Canada and Australia. If you would like to find out how Ginger can fit into your school or as a parent, if you want to know how your child can benefit from Ginger, please contact us and we will be happy to have a chat and explain everything.

We’d like to thank The Norman Howard School for giving us an insight into the children’s work with Ginger. It’s always a pleasure to meet our users face to face and to see the different ways they choose to use Ginger to correct their texts. And thank you Miki for reporting back!

Adios for now -

Sharon and the Ginger team

1 Comment

Jun 3rd 2011

Ginger’s Online Grammar Book is finally here!

The very first topic out of the Online Ginger Grammar Book is out

We’re super excited as we’ve been waiting for this for a long time now – our very own, cool and updated online grammar book.

The thing is, we looked around and realised that although there are some English grammar web pages out there, they are, how shall I put it, less than wonderful. Some lack content, others are a nightmare to use, and many are just completely amature. We knew we could do better but it took us a while to pull ourselves together and get this project into first gear (hey, you can’t blame us, we’ve been busy working on other cool stuff!).

Now the idea has come to life, not without great effort and creativity from Elad, our web programmer and Shiraz, our super creative director who gave the online grammar book a look and feel we think is top notch (but you’ll be the judge of that…).

Visit the Online Ginger Grammar Book

The book covers a large selection of grammatical topics, suitable for beginners as well as advanced learners or even native speakers who are interested in English grammar. Each topic offers explanations, examples, and exercises. You can even check your answers online using the Ginger correction widget.

So far, we have released the first topic out the book which is Adjectives. It includes descriptions of different types of adjectives, how to form them, order them, use them to compare things and a lot more. Not to worry though, we are working fast and hard to release many more topics so stay tuned as there’s more to come soon!

Visit the Online Ginger Grammar Book

As always, we would like to know what you think. If you like the online grammar book, do let us know. If you don’t, that’s OK too, but do tell us why. If you have comments or suggestions please share them with us and we’ll try to do better. Either leave us a comment here or contact us through the website.

Adios for now -

Sharon and the Ginger team

5 Comments