Before we relate the story of Thomas Tompion, the father of English watchmaking, there is one oversight I must clarify regarding fusee clocks.

Under no circumstances whatever must they be let down in any other way than running down. In other words, whatever you do, do not try to place a large key on the barrel square and attempt to lift the click, or ratchet, from the ratchet wheel. This will most certainly end in tears!

These springs are extremely powerful, and the way to let them down safely is to remove the pallets and let the clock run down, controlling its speed by touching the escape wheel periodically so as to keep the rate at a reasonable pace. The same goes for the strike and chime trains, of course, if the clock’s a three train. I should have clarified this in the last article, and my apologies for not doing so.

Now then – Thomas Tompion, referred to as the father of English watchmaking for a number of very good reasons. Born in 1639 to a Bedfordshire blacksmith, he himself practiced the trade until 1664. It was then that he became apprenticed to a London watchmaker whose name is lost to history.

There’s a paucity of detail about his early life, but we start to come into focus in 1671 when he was made a member of the Clockmakers Company of London, becoming a master in 1704. Not content with this, he was one of the few watchmakers who became a Member of the Royal Society.

As we saw in the last article, King Charles II established the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1676. He chose Tompion to produce two clocks, based on Richard Towneley’s escapement, which of course would be the deadbeat, the most accurate clock escapement until the 1920’s.

And indeed they did prove accurate, so much so that they were used in calculations by astronomers. What makes the accuracy all the more remarkable, was the fact that both were year-going clocks, with at least six gears in the train.

As we’ve seen, the normal regulator has a mere four wheels in total, simply the Great Wheel meshing directly into the Centre Wheel, with the Third and Escape Wheels above that. Having such a large number of Intermediate Wheels would have increased friction and required considerably more power. The meshing of these gears must be absolutely perfect to negate as much friction as possible.

He had an excellent relationship with Robert Hooke, the man who contested the invention of the Anchor Escapement with Mr. William Clement, if you remember.

Tompion and Robert Hooke concentrated on balance springs for watches, and it was at this time that some of the finest watches ever made were produced. They were far more accurate than any other watches on the market at the time.

Thomas Tompion also invented the cylinder escapement. This is a particularly tricky little beast, both to inspect and service and most especially to make. I’m sure it would be quite impossible to obtain a new one these days. I won’t even attempt to enter into how it works, but for the period in which Tompion lived, it must have been a masterpiece. Certainly they can be quite accurate, but were superseded by the lever escapement, which we’ll have a look at later.

One very interesting point. He was the first clock or watchmaker to number his creations. Nowadays, of course, everything’s numbered, but in Tompion’s day, they weren’t. Now, whether this means he was the first to number any article, I don’t know. But the father of English watchmaking was the first to number his clocks and watches.

Next time, we’ll have a look at a couple of his clocks and a few more details about this remarkable man.

My thanks to Wikipedia for certain historical details.

Many languages are different from English in regard to semantics, syntax and grammar. Although there are a variety of differences, this paper researches article use, misuse and acquisition. I predict that speakers of languages other than English which lack an article system (Korean, Russian, Polish and Japanese) will demonstrate language transfer errors within the English article system, a/an, the, or zero, when learning to speak English. Research suggests that non-native speakers of English will make errors when speaking English if their native language lacks articles.

Ionin, Ko and Wexler (2003) tested the linguistic theory of L2-acquisition as it relates to article use. They predicted that Korean and Russian English language learners will overuse the article the in specific and non-specific definite and indefinite contexts. In a 2004 study, Ekiert examined the acquisition and misuse of the English article system by speakers of Polish who were studying English in ESL and EFL settings. Neal Snape, 2004, examined article use by Japanese and Spanish English language learners and proposed that due to L2 acquisition processes, all English language learners would make systematic transfer errors regarding the English articles.

In a 2003 analysis done by Ionin, Ko and Wexler, Russian and Korean English language learners were studied in regard to their English article use. Participants in this study were 50 Russian learners of English ranging in age from 17-57, with a mean age of 38 who had been residing in the United States for an average of about 3 years (3years, 2 months). There were also 38 Korean learners of English ranging in age from 17-38, with a mean age of 28 who had been living in the U.S. for an average of just under 2 years (1year, 10 months). All of these participants had been exposed to English in their home country at an early age or during adolescence, but were not completely exposed to it until they came to the U.S. during late adolescence or adulthood. There was also a control group who participated in this study. It was made up of seven adult native speakers of English. They performed as expected on all tasks.

Ionin, Ko and Wexler (2003) note that data for this study were collected in the form of forced elicitation tasks and participants were asked to complete the written portion of the Michigan test of L2 proficiency, a 30-item multiple choice test which grouped learners into ability level (beginner, intermediate and advanced). The researchers also note in the results section that there was another task which was not reported on in this study. For the elicitation task, there were 56 short dialogues testing 14 context types where the participants had to choose between a, the, and the null article (–) for singulars and some, the, and — for plurals. Ionin, Ko and Wexler’s study shows examples of the dialogue elicitation tasks on pages 250-252. Three of the context types aimed to elicit singular specific indefinites. Ex-
In a “Lost and Found”:

Clerk: Can I help you? Are you looking for something you lost?

Customer: Yes, I realize you have lots of things here, but maybe you have what I need. You see, I am looking for (a, the, –) green scarf. I think I lost it here last week.

Three context types were used to elicit singular non-specific indefinites: Ex-

In a clothing store:

Clerk: May I help you?

Customer: Yes, Please! I’ve rummaged through every stall, without any success. I am looking for (a, the, –) warm hat. It’s getting rather cold outside.

Two contexts tested plural indefinites (specific and non-specific). Ex-

Phone Conversation: (specific)

Jeweler: Hello, this is Robertson’s Jewelry. What can I do for you ma’am? Are you looking for a piece of jewelry? Or are you interested in selling?

Client: Yes, selling is right. I would like to sell you (some, the, –) beautiful necklaces. They are very valuable.

Phone Conversation: (non-specific)

Salesperson: Hello, Erik’s Grocery Deliveries. What can I do for you?

Customer: Well, I have a rather exotic order.

Salesperson: We may be able to help you.

Customer: I would like to buy (some, the, –) green tomatoes. I’m making a special Mexican sauce.

Two context types were designed to elicit definite determiner phrases (DP) in plural and singular contexts. Examples:

Singular definite:

Richard: I visited my friend Kelly yesterday. Kelly really likes animals- she has two cats and one dog. Kelly was busy last night- she was studying for an exam. So I helped her out with her animals.

Maryanne: What did you do?

Richard: I took (a, the, –) dog for a walk.

Plural definite:

Rosalyn: My cousin started school yesterday. He took one notebook and two
new books with him to school, and he was very excited. He was so proud of having his own school things! But he came home really sad.

Jane: What made him so sad? Did he lose any of his things?

Rosalyn: Yes! He lost (some, the, –) books.

Since the results of this study were separated into ability level, The Michigan Test results were given first. The L1-Korean group had 1 beginner, 12 intermediate and 25 advanced English language learners. The L1-Russian group contained 13 beginners, 15 intermediate and 22 advanced English language learners. Results show that intermediate and advanced learners generally overused the in specific indefinite contexts. Results also showed that the use of the was higher with definites than with specific indefinites and was also higher with specific than non-specific indefinites. Researchers also noted that article omission was higher with plural DPs.

Overall, it was noted that the L1-Korean students outperformed L1-Russian speakers in most categories. This performance difference was attributed to the fact that “the L1-Korean students were predominantly international students receiving intensive English instruction, while the speakers came from a variety of backgrounds” (Ionin, Ko and Wexler, 2003).

In a similar study conducted by Monica Ekiert in 2004, the acquisition of the English article system by speakers of Polish was studied in ESL and EFL settings. Participants in this study included 10 adult Polish learners of English (ESL), 10 Polish English language learners (EFL) and 5 native English speakers who served as the control group. All Polish students ranged in age from early 20s to late 30s, were given a grammar placement test and divided in to beginner, intermediate and advanced ability levels. The ESL students were enrolled in an intensive English language course at Columbia University with an average length of staying in America of one year. The EFL students were enrolled in Warsaw University whereas English was not their major and they had not been outside of Poland for more than one month nor did they use English outside of the classroom.

The task given to the students was 42 sentences containing 75 deleted obligatory uses of a/an, the, zero. The participants were asked to read the sentences, insert a/an, the, zero in the appropriate spot. Blanks were not put in the sentences because the researcher felt that if blanks were inserted, the participants would fill every blank with a or the creating unreliable data. Each student was given 20 minutes to complete the task and they were asked to not use dictionaries. An analysis of the overuse of a/an, the, zero was conducted. Unfortunately, examples of the sentences used for this task were not reported in the report.

Results for this study showed that learners at all ability levels overused the zero article. A direct relationship was shown between ability level and overuse of the zero article whereas the beginners showed the most overuse, intermediates less and advanced learners made the least amount of zero overuse errors. Results of the misuse of the a article were the same for proficiency level v. misuse. In contrast, the article was not overused by the beginners. The level of the overuse was highest among the intermediate learners.

It was noted by Ekiert (2004) that a remarkable finding of this study was that the EFL learners outperformed their ESL counterparts. This provides evidence that the acquisition of the English article system does not rely solely on exposure. One reason given for this performance difference is that all of the EFL students were enrolled in a college program, while the ESL students varied in educational background and were simply enrolled in a college level ESL class for one semester.

Another study was conducted by Neal Snape in 2004 which examined article use by Japanese and Spanish English language learners. This study proposes that although Spanish speakers do utilize an article system, due to L2 acquisition processes, that Spanish speakers of English would make systematic transfer errors regarding the English articles similar to Japanese learners. He also predicted that L2 learners would overuse the definite article the.

Participants in this study were three Japanese-speaking learners of English, three Spanish-speaking learners of English and two native English speakers acted as the control group. All participants ranged in age from 23-40 years old, with a mean age of 28. All of the English language learners had been studying in the UK for six months and had taken and scored 575 or above on TOEFL. The two groups of learners were separated into ability levels based on placement test scores.

The first task in this experiment was an oral production task and consisted of having the participants listen to 13 short stories. The stories were presented using PowerPoint slides and prompts were given to the students on each slide to assist them in the recall of the story. They listened to the story twice and recalled it using the prompts. Each recall was recorded digitally, transcribed and the checked for accuracy. Ex- story:

‘I thought the train was leaving’ the young man said. ‘they can’t find a driver.’ the elderly woman’s daughter replied.

Results demonstrated that participants had difficulty using the correct article. Ex-results: ‘They can’t find the driver.’

The results of this study also show that accuracy with article use directly correlates to the learners’ performance on the placement test whereas beginners scored the lowest with correct article use while the advanced students scored highest.

The second task in this study was a gap-filling test where the participants had to read a dialogue and fill in the gap with the correct article, a/an, the, or zero. Ex-

A: Come on! We have been in this shop for hours.

B: I can’t make up my mind. Which shirt do you like best?

C: I prefer ____ shirt with stripes.

Results from this task found that Japanese learners of English and Spanish learners of English did not overuse the definite article the. This research showed that all English language learners performed better in the written section than in the verbal by creating less article errors. In the oral section of the task, advanced learners were more accurate in their article use, but omission errors were still persistent (Snape, 2004).

In all of the studies, it was shown that speakers of languages other than English which lack an article system, use of a/an, the, or zero demonstrated language transfer errors when learning to speak English. It also showed that the most errors were omissions, because their native languages do not have an article system. Although this is true for the Korean, Russian, Polish and Japanese speakers of English, it is not true for the Spanish speakers. This leads to the interpretation of Snape’s 2004 data and results in regard to language acquisition. Perhaps it is not an issue of the other language’s lack of an article system, it is directly related to second language acquisition whereas English articles are not acquired until a later stage.

Research suggests that ESL articles are so difficult to learn and teach to ESL and EFL students because of the vastness and complexity of the rules and exceptions regarding article usage (Norris, 1992). Some teaching techniques that could be useful for ESL and EFL teachers include providing extended descriptions, meaningful learning experiences and the use of visual aides and imagery.

Most people believe that if your child does not go to public or private school that they are being homeschooled. Maybe or maybe not. That depends on who you ask and what definition of homeschooling you follow.


School-at-home is generally considered at school curriculum administered at home. Sources of the curriculum might be the public school system, private school system, or an independent full curriculum distance school.

The pros of school-at-home are numerous but let’s choose two pros that are particularly interesting to people who never thought they would homeschool.

The first pro is that the entire curriculum is administered by a school, whether it is a local school or a distance learning school. This means that they generally interface with your state’s department of education to make sure that you are educating at home legally. Sometimes the local or distance school will also have accreditation. What this used to mean is that your child’s diploma would hold the same weight as a private or public school diploma but that is not exactly the case anymore. I will tell you a bit more about that shortly.

The second major pro of school-at-home is the idea that everything, the entire curriculum comes as a package. The parent does not need to collect various materials from different places. The curriculum is standardized and every student enrolled in this type of education will get the same instructional materials.

The pro of the entire curriculum coming in a package can also be one of the cons of this type of school-at-home. By having a standardized curriculum the parent is not given the option of allowing the student to study any one subject more in depth than any other. The student is expected to complete work at a pre-determined pace, and there is little flexibility to allow for a student’s individual learning style.

This is actually the point where the contrast between school-at-home and homeschool are most notable.


Homeschooling can differ greatly from school-at-home, but it can also resemble school-at home.

One of the most important hallmarks of true homeschooling is flexibility. When a parent chooses to homeschool they are choosing to take control over their child’s education and also ultimate responsibility. What this means is that parents choose what their children study, in what order, and what depth. This allows not only for student interests but also the student’s learning style. There are many sources to choose from when choosing homeschool curricula and it is possible to pick different subjects from the source that best fits your child’s learning style.

A second important aspect of homeschooling is the idea that the parent is in control of timing and schedule. In most states this means that parents choose when and if to have their children submit to standardized tests. Being in control of the family’s schedule can be very important, especially if there is any aspect of the family’s schedule is variable. One particular example might be children in military families. Deployments do not occur according to school schedules. Having the schedule flexibility to take a break when the military parent returns is of great benefit.

It was mentioned earlier that school-at-home often provided accredited diplomas for high school graduates. Recently, many states have passed rulings that allow diplomas from any homeschool to hold the same weight as other schools. This is good news for families who educate at home.

Which is better?

So which one is better, school-at-home or homeschool? Well, that would depend on you, as the parent, and your child’s needs. Some students need a lot of structure, and need to move at a pre-determined rate. Other students need to move at their own pace, faster in some subjects, slower in others. There are positives and negatives to both methods of educating children at home. Consider which might work best for your family if you are considering home education.

Teaching a child to speak English is so easy. Here are some tips for parents and teachers to heed.

1. English must be spoken at home and in school

Yes, a child who is surrounded with people speaking the language would definitely learn the language. Nary reason why he could not learn it from the bombardment, left and right, coming from his siblings, parents, classmates and teachers alike.

2. Is heard on TV, movie, etc.

A child exposes himself to cartoons say Disney Channel would surely learn to speak the language sans the aid of people around. He would mimic the dialogue and consequently utter them when he is with his playmates, teachers and siblings. Yes, there is magic in exposing your child to media for their own language acquisition.

3. A child who is always read to by parents learns the language easier than his counterpart

Before going to bed or what, during Sundays or family days reading to a child stories in English might enhance his speaking skills using the language. Listening skills as well, together with his vocabulary power be used in understanding the story. Making his own interpretation based on his prior knowledge and all– which is more important than memorizing facts– is a vital thing in his development.

4. There is always room for improvement

When a child commits mistakes in pronouncing a word or what, adults must provide the needed scaffolding. But, of course, without giving him fears to commit mistakes and should know that committing mistakes is part of learning; well, he would definitely gain the confidence experiencing corrections and so on– sans making him feel inferior and all.

In short, exposure to an environment where language is used would surely make him proficient in the language. Yes, assuming the child has the interest in doing his things without pressures would be liken to giving him a chance to learn a skill the fun and meaningful way.

Therefore parents and teachers must help the child the proper way of learning the language through exposing him to a rich learning environment where using the language in speaking, writing, listening, reading and viewing are all present. Thus, learning to love the language would definitely be a positive and productive experiences for him, thus, making him proficient in the language and could boost his confidence competing with himself in learning and all.

With more than 988,000 words in the English language (according to the Global Language Monitor), one would be justified in assuming that there would me more than enough to describe any situation, feeling or item. Yet, in the Inuit, English & Sami languages, there are several hundred words to describe one English word: snow. For most of us, that one word is sufficient, yet, the further north we go, the greater the need for better descriptors of the white stuff. Situations often demand better vocabulary options than the language offers.

Recently, my doctor asked me to describe the level of pain that he understood me to be experiencing with a torn shoulder tendon. “On a scale of one to ten…” he suggested. I could not rank my experience in that manner. In fact, his interpretation of pain was radically different from mine.

Pain is one of those words that is completely inadequate in the English language.

A few years ago, I had a tooth that was not decaying, but had some nerve damage and slowly was loosening. On a daily basis, I experienced significant discomfort, but it was not a classic toothache. It did not “ache.” However, from time to time, in addition to the discomfort, the nerve would be agitated, and a sharp sensation would knife through my jaw. Still, to me, it was not pain.

In 1986, I sliced sixteen tendons, the nerves, artery and vein in my left arm. During the healing process, my doctor prescribed high-power painkillers. I never used one, as I did not feel that I was in severe pain. My arm throbbed constantly, and, to this day, my hand feels like it is being pinched in a set of vise-grips. However, my wife was experiencing intense headaches, and used up the entire prescription, with only moderate effect.

In 1972, in the last years before my mother died of cancer, the hospital attempted to have her accept her morphine to alleviate the pain of the illness. She refused, stating that she wanted to wait until the pain was sufficiently severe. She felt that using the medication too early would make the painkiller less effective as the last stages of the disease ravaged her. She died, never reaching the stage where she would accept the morphine.

I have had numerous broken bones, none of which gave me pain, yet all of which induced some inconvenience, with unusual stabs reminiscent of being sliced with a utility knife.

Headaches are different from bruises, while the flu or a severe cold is different again, from a basic headache.

A strained muscle is very unpleasant, but is the pain of the strain equivalent to a deep cut? How about the unpleasant experience of a paper cut?

Pain extends to the emotional, as well. A relationship breakup is different from the death of a loved one, yet both bring great pain, and heartache.

Back to my doctor’s query. On a scale of one to ten? Well, the shoulder hurts, but my arm laceration was more severe. So, it cannot be a 10. The chronic nature of my tooth problem was more aggravating than the arm laceration, so down the scale a notch goes the shoulder. I have worked for weeks with broken bones, not understanding that they were broken, but knowing that they hurt considerably. Prolonged and fairly intense, they relegate the toothache down the line. My mother’s experience with the rot of cancer, no doubt, dwarfs the broken bones. Again, move the shoulder further back in the line. I have seen the intense pain that the death of my wife’s aunt caused. Obviously, the anguish of the sudden death eclipses the slow evolution of my mother’s. Once again, my shoulder takes a backward step.

So, on a scale of one to ten? Probably a minus one. Not because the shoulder feels fine. It feels far from it. A minus one, because I cannot claim that the shoulder discomfort is painful, and cannot rank it against other, more serious pains.

We need more words to describe pain, because this torn shoulder is causing me a good deal of inconvenience, and the inconvenience is a pain in the butt. An 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Intrinsic Motivation – A Most Powerful Force!

What an incredible tool for motivating adult English language learners. It is at the heart of first-language acquisition and naturally most effective for acquiring second language. The challenge for adults is to make the second-language process more like the first-language process: make it meaningful, make it real, and make it active.

An inner stimulus is at the base of our being, that urge that keeps us vital, that fundamental drive that compels us to learn. When we interact with language in an intrinsically motivating way we tap a ultra-natural process which implants the language in our long-term memory. That is what we bring to our language learners when we make the lessons come alive with meaning and interactivity.

Do you recall how you acquired your first language? Do you have memories of magical moments of learning as you worked to gain competency at some communication skill: the early grasp of a new word, a school paper, a reading assignment, or having completed a book that mesmerized you. If those images are vague, try remembering the times when you found yourself fully involved in any form of discovery. Your learning capacity felt limitless, and often the only thing that interrupted you was fatigue or hunger. Acquiring a second language should fall directly into that kind of experience.

Make it meaningful! Plant a meaningful activity firmly at the heart of each lesson. Base the activity on the topics of life (people and places, transportation, occupations, food, housing, medical, shopping, finances, rights and responsibilities, recreation, sports, and entertainment, and so forth). For example, if the topic is entertainment, design an activity that involves the learner in some element of entertainment (discussing a book, critiquing a movie or play). If the topic in shopping, design an activity in which the learner can simulate a shopping trip. The entire lesson, including grammar forms, easily wraps around that activity.

Textbooks are great for suggesting life topics, but those topics are relevant only as the learner makes them meaningful. Pull the learner into decision-making about the angle as it related to him or her. Discussing the angle becomes a part of language-learning process. Continuously recycle and integrate life topics. In other words, you may have offered lessons in banking, but the language was on a beginning level of banking vocabulary. Recycle the topic by bumping it up a notch each time, based on the learner’s interests, questions, and suggestions. Once the learner has the basic vocabulary, bump it up to interest rates, dividends, working in a bank, and one of the banking positions that might interest the learner. An activity can include the learner acting as the teller and you as the customer. Later another lesson might be interviewing a prospective bank employee.

Make it active! Use authentic materials (real stuff) as much as possible, and use role play. Get the learner involved in the action process. That allows the learner to take responsibility for his or her learning. It gives the learner something meaningful to do. It makes the entire process active. It is that interactivity with language that taps the learner’s interest and sets the language into long-term memory. Get the learner involved in the simulation process. Give the learner a task of designing virtual activities. Promote whole language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) throughout the process, and encourage the learner to use the four language components in the lesson. For example, if the activity is to simulate a job interview, have the learner write out an outline of the process and then read it aloud. Encourage the learner to involve you in the simulated interview, and give the learner an assignment to write a summary or reflective essay of the experience.

It might seem a huge challenge to come up with meaningful activities for everyday lessons; conversely, as the burden in taken on by learner the process takes on a natural flow and the experiences become part of his or her language usage and learning process. It involves the learner in all components of language, and it makes the process meaningful, real and active. Then you have learning incentive at its finest and you have language acquisition.

Freelance-Writing.1Freelance writing lets you share your knowledge and skills with a broad audience. Opportunities to get paid for your articles are available online and in traditional print media. Generally speaking, you have a better chance of getting paid for articles if you produce content that demonstrates your expertise. Enrolling in an English composition class or a non-fiction writers workshop can help you hone your craft before seeking paid opportunities.


1. Identify online media companies that use freelance writers to produce high-volume content. Such companies usually place advertisements seeking freelance writers and online applications on their websites. In your application, include your areas of expertise and samples of your best work. Once you are approved, media companies typically let you know what types of articles they want you to write and how much you will be paid.

2. Compile a list of magazines and newspapers that accept submissions from free-lance writers. Focus your search on publications in your area that look for articles of local interest, or on particular publications that specialize in a particular topic you have expertise in. Draft a query letter that includes a brief introduction and a detailed outline of the article you that would like to submit. Some magazine and newspaper publishers might require you to submit a resume and links to recently published articles before they will consider accepting and paying for your work. Magazines and newspapers typically pay more than high-volume online media companies.

3. Contact bloggers about providing article content for their websites. Maintaining a successful, high-traffic blog often leaves owners little time to produce content. Submit a proposal highlighting your expertise and include writing samples. Bloggers and freelance writers typically negotiate article fees prior to delivery.

4. Write articles and offer them for sale through an intermediary website that sells articles to consumers in exchange for a cut of your article’s price. You also can offer the articles for sale on your own website or blog, which offers the highest potential pay if you are successful. Both options let you set the asking price for your articles.