kitchen table math, the sequel: unfriendly worksheets, part 2

Thursday, September 9, 2010

unfriendly worksheets, part 2

from A Guide to Learning English:
Rule number 2: Be aware of the difficulties of cultural references!

The following text is the first part of the introductory paragraph to a question about car speed:
"The police used to measure the speed of cars on the road by having two PCs some distance apart using a stopwatch. One of them would stand and wave as a car reached him. When the wave was seen by the second PC a stopwatch was started. As the car passed the second PC, the stopwatch was stopped."
The question itself read:
"Is the car exceeding the maximum speed limit in Britain?"
The ESL student who asked for my help with this question was puzzled how a personal computer could stand and wave. He also had no idea what the maximum speed limit is in Britain.

I would like to know how two personal computers can stand some distance apart and use a stopwatch.


FedUpMom said...

Catherine, I believe "PC" stands for "Police Constable" in British English. "Constable" is the lowest rank in the Police.

Don't get your knickers in a twist!

Catherine Johnson said...

That's what I thought!

I was completely flummoxed by that example --- which is funny, 'cause the web site is about how to teach ESL students but it runs afoul of cultural references for a native English speaker from the U.S.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm not criticizing the web site, btw --- from what I saw of it, it will be terrifically helpful to me in teaching composition.

LynnG said...

I thought maybe it meant "police car" and they were being very liberal in the definition of car.

Anonymous said...

Catherine, don't you mean 'criticising' ..... :-)

Richard I (brit exiled in BC)